It’s been a busy year for nearly 100 kids and adult dancers getting prepped to make their Walt Disney debut next month in Orlando.
The troupe from Marchand’s School of Dance in Miller Place been practicing routines for Hollywood Studios (Dec. 2) and the big Christmas Parada at the Magic Kingdom (Dec. 3.)
They’ve been hosting fundraisers across the area since January.
And learning a lot along the way.
“The kids are getting so much out of it,” said Sommer Marchand Wendelken, a dance instructor at the school whose mom, Marge Marchand started teaching area kids dance in 1976 out of her home. “It’s doing so much for them.”
Scroll down for an aerial view of the Disney-bound dancers practicing.
The decision was made last fall to participate through Dance the Magic at Disney, and a letter was sent out to all the parents of the more than 500 students at Marchand’s
“We had to tryout for it, and 95 made it,” said Marchand “We did not leave one person behind.”
The school was overwhelmed by the response, and Wendelken believes their number of dancers is among the largest ever for the Dance the Magic program.
Through Dance the Magic, schools from across the U.S. are eligible to perform on on Main Street U.S.A. at the Florida, California and Paris theme parks.
This year, the dancers in Orlando will be performing at both at the Beauty and the Beast stage at Hollywood Studios, and the Magic Kingdom Christmas parade.
Marchand said she was approached by representatives of the program in the summer of 2016
But that was not enough time to get the routines down, or put money together.
“January of this year we immediately started fundraising,” for a December 2017 trip, she said, noting that many of the girls received donations from friends and relatives so they can go fulfill their dream experience.
“So it’s nice for them to feel supported,” she said.
Among the dancers heading to Disney in late December are Alyson McKay, 10, of Port Jefferson Station, and her mom, Debi.
The experience will be extra special for them because they’re dancing together for the first-time ever, as Debi is coming out of dance retirement and has been practicing with the others.
“I used to be a dance teacher when i was 16, so I was always into the dance thing growing up,” she said, “But I never did it here, because t was more to be there for my daughter. I am enjoying it so much, though.”
What’s more, she’ll also get to watch her daughter.
“In one dance we’re dancing right next to each other, and I’m not going to miss anything,” she said. “It’s a dream come true, it really honestly is.”
The trip is also serving as a family vacation for all the attendees.
But 10-year-old Alyson didn’t hesitate to say what she’s most looking forward to:
Photo (L-R): Sommer Marchand Wendelken, Marley Marchand, 9, Marge Marchand, Debi McKay, and Alyson McKay, 10, at Marchand’s School of Dance in Miller Place on Tuesday. (Credit: Michael White)