Dance Connections dancers taking part in this year’s Summer Dance Classic at Disneyland go through one of their final rehearsals for the trip. The students, ranging in age from 10 to 19, depart July 9 for California.
– Stephen Dafoe Photo
by Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – A group of 16 local dancers are en route to California this week to take part in what they see as an opportunity of a lifetime. After months of preparation, fundraising and rehearsals, the Dance Connections students, ranging in age from 10 to 19, are taking part in the Summer Dance Classic at Disneyland running until July 13.
Dance Connections owner and instructor Nicole Timtim-Ramirez said students will participate in Dance the Magic, a one-day workshop taught by Disney Teaching Artists, including choreographers and show directors. The students will also be participating and walking in two Disneyland parades. The Morinville students will be meeting, working beside and performing among dancers from all over the world, something Timtim-Ramirez sees as a good opportunity for her dancers to represent Morinville, Alberta, and Canada on an international level.
With dancers attending the Summer Dance Classic ranging from 10 to 19 years of age, experience is varied. Though some students have been in dance lessons for years, others are new to the studio or even new to dance. But it has not stopped the students from working hard over the past four and a half months to prepare for the trip.
The oldest dancer to make the journey is 19-year-old Shelby Mason, a dancer who said the gruelling rehearsals have been worth the effort. “They’re pretty intense, but I think they’re necessary because the opportunity to go to Disney is pretty spectacular. The opportunity to be prepared is what we need. The practices are definitely needed but you are pretty disgusting after them.” Now that the work is done and the flights are booked, Mason said she is mostly looking forward to spending time with the other dancers. “Being the oldest dancer going, and meeting a lot of the younger ones I don’t normally interact with, spending more time with the younger kids has been really fun. It is likely going to get even better as we go.”
Hayley Ouellette, 14, is also looking forward to the experience of participating in the Summer Dance Classic after months of preparation. “All of them [rehearsals] have been really fun and helped my dancing,” Ouellette said, adding she has found the preparation has helped her basic dancing skills and cardio vascular training as well, the latter important given the parade’s half-hour-long run time. “They get pretty hard, but I think it’s necessary to be the best we can be.” Like Mason, Ouellette is looking forward to the experience. “I think it’s a great experience and it’s gong to be fun.”
Emma Haun, 11, said she has been working hard during the twice-weekly rehearsals. “It’s hard work. It’s long,” she said. “We rehearse for two hours Monday and Wednesday.” Though looking forward to being in the parade, her motivation is a simple one. “I’m looking forward to making all the kids happy in Disneyland,” she said.
Timtim-Ramirez said she is proud of what the dancers have accomplished to get ready for the event. Not only have they spent many extra hours rehearsing, they have also spent many hours fundraising for the trip. “All costs associated with going on this trip was something above and beyond the dancers and families, above and beyond their yearly school fees,” she said. “It was a lot of money, so we did do some fundraising events throughout the year. We’re thankful to Morinville for their support. They [the residents] helped us out a lot with our bottle drive. We had a silent auction in May and that was very successful.”