Dancing at Disney renews passion


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When I was a little girl, I obsessed over anything Disney-related. I would sit in front of my television screen for hours, watching different movies of princesses, adventures and talking inanimate objects, wanting to be part of that magical world. This past December, I was finally given that opportunity through my love of dance and performing.

On Dec. 15, along with 11 other girls from my studio, Meg Segreto’s Dance Centre, I flew from Fort Lauderdale International Airport to Orlando, to perform at Disney. I didn’t know what to expect from the experience at first; I had been to dance conventions before and even performed in some, but never had it been in a place that meant so much to me.

The next day, my three roommates and I woke up at 6 a.m. We were instructed by our teachers that we needed full performance attire for our dance workshop. From past years, I knew that workshops were taught by very experienced professionals, but when I met my teacher, I was shocked beyond belief. Our instructor, who went by Claire, was not only experienced in many verses of dance, but she was a Disney dancer. Throughout our three-hour workshop, I discovered that she performed daily at Magic Kingdom in the Palace Show just in front of the castle. Beyond the fact that her career was mind-blowing to me, she was incredibly sweet and her love for all things Disney, like my own, was vivid. She taught us a typical audition piece for Disney dancers; one they must master and perform if they wish to be in certain shows. We had a mock audition piece. Of the group, I was one of the few who was asked questions, such as if I was claustrophobic or if I had ever partnered before, and received a mock call-back, being able to perform the piece again. Getting this type of attention really developed my confidence because I aspire to go into this performing field when I’m older; the fact that I was recognized and chosen out of my group fuels my belief that I can have a chance of success in this industry.

Following our audition piece, Claire sat the group down and asked us basics about performance resumes. I learned a lot from this session, like what an appropriate headshot looks like and what information to exclude from your resume, such as your age. I found this very helpful as I have had to submit artistic resumes these past few months for auditions into colleges’ arts programs.

During the last hour of the workshop, Claire taught our group a second piece, one that Disney dancers would learn and perform in the parks. When the dance was completed, Claire surprised us by informing us we would be performing both the dance we just learned with the audition piece for a small audience. Initially, I thought that was surprise enough, but when we were already in position, the house lights went dim, pink stage lights lit up, and the magical Disney voice began to speak, counting us down to begin. However, nothing compared to my shock when four seconds into our routine, Goofy popped out from a side door and began to do the dance with us. I was a backup dancer for Goofy! This was definitely the highlight of that day, topping an amazing trip to Magic Kingdom that afternoon.

The following morning, my group and I went to Disney Springs and walked around the plaza for a couple of hours before we needed to get ready to perform. I remember walking past the stage hours before the performance, and at that time it was empty; it wasn’t when we performed.

After a nice provided lunch, my friends and I went back to our bus and were taken to a behind-the-scenes dancing station just outside of Disney Springs. At the trailer location were three dancing studios and a bathroom. Here, we prepped for our performance by warming up and applying finishing touches to our look: adding firetruck red lipstick to our mouths, putting earrings the size of dimes in our ears and putting on the infamous Rockette costumes we would be performing in. For months in advance, my dance group and I had been practicing Rockette style dances and kick lines to be ready to perform for friends, family and Disney-goers who had a piqued interest in our act.

When we were brought back by bus to Disney Springs, heads were turning. Even in Disney, it’s not every day you see children waltzing around in reindeer and Rockette Santa get-ups. The instructor of the program brought us to the stage, a harem of visitors following our line, and allowed us to pass behind the curtain. At that time, they let us know we had ten minutes before show time; this was when I put on my silver-sprayed heels and set up my glittering headpieces for my quick changes.

Overall, the performance was spectacular. My knees were buckling before I had taken the stage, but once we were all in position and the music to our first of three dances began to play, all my nerves dissipated, and I put on a brave smile, allowing myself to do what I do best: dance. Every dance was executed without flaw, not one person kicking out (a term designated for the action of a dancer kicking at the wrong time in a precision piece.) Though the sunlight partially blinded me, I could see all the people’s faces alight with the joy my dancing was bringing them. Several people took their phones out and were recording the dances to be watched over and over again in the future, a memory to last a lifetime. I helped make someone’s Disney experience with my beloved talent.

Reflecting on this experience, I wouldn’t change a single thing. I had the time of my life, doing what I love most in the world, in my favorite place in the world, while providing people with the feeling that simply is Disney. This experience helped me build my confidence in multiple ways by allowing me to get out of my shell an express my utmost affections for the art I’ve come to call home. I find myself almost jealous now at the fact that I am graduating and will not be able to participate in this opportunity again with my studio; however, I say almost because I’m excited for those who are stepping up into the space I leave to have this experience.

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