ORLANDO, Fla. - When school begins in a few weeks one of the first points of discussion will be "What did you do on summer vacation?"
For nine area dancers the answer is simple - "We danced at Disney!"
On June 27 nine local dancers, their families and local instructors Danie Juhl and Denise Patin headed to Orlando, Fla. for four days of sightseeing at Disneyworld in addition to their featured performance at Downtown Disney.
L’ecole la Danse students pose with instructor Danie Juhl.
"We were one of the first studios invited to be part of the Disney Performing Arts programs back in the 1990s. We had 35 dancers and 60 family members undertake that trip and it was phenomenal. It has always been my plan to return. In 2012, L'ecole la Danse celebrated its 35th anniversary with a routine featuring our alumni. It was at the rehearsal for that routine that many of the former students commented on that 1997 trip and the fact that many of them would never have gone to Disneyworld if it hadn't been for that trip. That was the beginning of the idea for this trip. Danie and I have been blessed with many outstanding young dancers and supportive families behind them, so we felt that this was the time to undertake a trip like this," commented Patin.
The process began last June when the studio began the audition by video process. They submitted a video showcasing the L'ecole la Danse dancers ages eight and up. In August they received word that they had been accepted. Every one of their routines was invited to perform provided that each routine maintained at least 60 percent of its original dance cast. In September there was a parent meeting explaining trip details, rehearsal details and costs. Danie Juhl commented, "Unfortunately, not everyone that was accepted was able to make this trip. We have a lot of hardworking, talented dancers and we would have loved it if they all could have participated."
The dancers that performed at Disney were: Elle Houseman, Gracen Love, Shania Murray, Taylor Bates, Riley Shryock, Elizabeth Reardon, Alexa Springer, Izaak Sander and Abby Sander.
The families that decided to participate held many fundraising events throughout the area during the past year. "We want to thank the area businesses that donated items to be raffled and we want to thank the people of the community for their continued support. Estherville has always supported its young people. That sense of community is what made me want to return to my hometown to join in the family business," added Juhl.
The dancers offered a lot of exciting comments about the trip.
"It was an awesome experience that I and my dance team got to perform onstage at Disney World. It was a magical time that I will always remember!" said Shania.
Gracen said she liked the trip because it gave her the chance to hang out with her friends and having people enjoy the dances.
Elle said it was a lot of fun and her favorite part was dancing in Downtown Disney.
"It was an awesome experience to dance on the Disney stage and so worth the extra work and money. I can't wait to go again and hope for dancers get a chance to go," Liz said.
"Dancing at Disney World was pretty cool. We rocked the stage!" Izaak said.
His sister Abby said, "It was so fun dancing on the Disney stage with my friends. It felt like we were stars that day!"