It’s two days until take off.
On Thursday, Nov. 3, 24 dancers from Langley will be touching down in California – their mission: to dance their hearts out for thousands of visitors at the “Happiest Place on Earth.”
This team of young Langley dancers, ages 12 to 18, are students at The Young At Arts Dance Academy (YAA) in Langley City, and they’ve been invited to perform in the Holiday Spectacular Parade down Mainstreet U.S.A. in Disneyland Park this Friday through Sunday.
“The Disneyland experience is truly magical for our dancers,” said studio owner and artistic director Meghann Turnbull.
This is Turnbull’s fourth time taking students down south to perform at Disneyland.
“Each participant always learns so much not just about performing, but about who they are as people, strong friendships are built, and life skills are developed on these trips,” she said.
The initial video audition for the parade was sent in back in June, after Turnbull received an invitation for her students to audition.
Each dancer was assessed and accepted individually. The teacher was elated by the reaction their video presentations received.
Not only were the jazz and tap students invited to participate in the parade, but given the calibre of their submissions, they were also asked to audition and ultimately perform in Disney’s Holiday Showcase Production – a full stage performance on the Fantasyland stage during their visit.
“Your dancers looked great in their uniform look, and it was easy for me to follow along. They performed the choreography beautifully, with lots of personality. This was one of the best auditions I have ever received,” the director from Dance the Magic wrote to Turnbull.
And on top of dancing in the parade and stage show, the young dancers also get a chance to participate in workshops provided by Dance The Magic and Disney Performing Arts – with actual Disneyland choreographers.
They will also travel to Hollywood and participate in master classes at the Edge Dance Centre, Turnbull explained.
“The workshops we participate in both at Disneyland and in L.A. always teach our dancers new concepts and performance techniques, and they are able to bring their excitement and insight back to their fellow dancers at YAA,” said the teacher.
“Seeing the joy in my students faces, and watching them learn and grow in this unique experience truly means so much to me,” Turnbull said.
“When they show professionalism and take on personal responsibility and organization for their dancing while taking care of each other and working as a team is really what it is all about for me,” she said.
They’ve been in intensive rehearsals for this since early September.
Turnbull took her first team of YAA dancers to Disneyland in 2008, then returned in 2012 and 2014.
Making this trip possible hasn’t all been about dances, videos, and rehearsals.
Students and parents alike have also been fundraising for months, to cover the costs for this trip.
They’ve hosted clothing and bottle drives, held Disney-themed bake sales, sold Purdy’s chocolates, flogged popcorn, and coordinated pub nights to make it happen, Turnbull explained.
But it’s so worth it, she said.
“Every one of our dancers has dedicated a great deal of time and effort to prepare for this adventure, and they deserve the trip of a lifetime,” she added.
The dancers are gone from Nov. 3 to 8, and perform Nov. 4 to 6, leaving them a bit of time for fun.
“Of course, they will have free time to experience the magic of Disney, as well,” Turnbull concluded.
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Disney dancers excited
A team of 24 Langley dancers are on their way to Disneyland, and to say they’re thrilled about the adventure is an understatement:
• Aliyah Wright, 13
“I am most looking forward to leading the parade, and eating churros and Dole whips with friends.”
• Trinity Wright, 11
“I am most looking forward to taking workshops with Disney performers.”
• Vanessa Van Geel 17
“As a senior, I can’t think of anything better to start my final year, then with my Young At Arts family performing in the Happiest Place on Earth.”
• Chloe Newman, 14
“Looking forward to being part of the magic of Disney!”
• Haley Wolstenholme, 12
“I can’t wait for the experience; it’s going to be so much fun to dance in Disneyland!”
• Kira Dafoe, 11
“I can’t wait to be part of the excitement and thrill of the Disney magic!”
• Makenna Trotman , 13
“I am just super excited to perform down Mainstreet and be part of the magic that is Disney.”
• Daniella Kuzik, 11
“I am looking forward to be representing Langley and our wonderful dance studio while performing in the parade.”
• Rachel Kimber, 11
“It’s my 15 minutes of fame!”
• Abbie McCaffrey, 11
“I’m going to my favourite place doing my favourite thing… I’m so thankful for this opportunity this is just a few steps towards my dancing career… Finally, I can show my inner princess… I’m dancing in the most magical place in the world. It still hasn’t hit me.”
• Kylah MacLeod, 13
“It’s been a dream of mine to dance in Disneyland. I can’t wait to dance down Mainstreet!”
• Molly Horton, 14
“I am looking forward to performing in the parade that I have watched since I was four years old!”
• Kelsey Yablonski, 12
“To have fun and dance with my friends (and eat churros).”