The magic of Disneyland has left a lasting affect on 25 local dancers, who feel they have boosted their skill level to new levels.
Steps Dance Centre just got back from a spring break getaway to California, where their company dancers performed twice at the theme park in Anaheim and participated in three workshops.
“The excitement was just building inside of me, that’s something I’ve never felt before,” said Vanessa Ferraro, 11. “I thought it was a lot of fun because all of my friends were there.”
Beyond taking in the sensory overload the park offered, Sofia Merlo, 11, said she saw another side of Disneyland back stage. Accepted on as temporary employees, the girls spent some time at the staff lot where they saw Mickey Mouse and friends on their lunch breaks.
On stage, the crew was challenged by multi-level stages and large crowds of people, many who traveled from Greater Trail to cheer them on, said Ava Fossey, 9.
Strutting their stuff in seven numbers, the dancers showed park-goers their style of hip-hop, tap and lyrical.
“We got plenty of great memories, it was a great experience to dance there,” said 14-year-old Maria Macasso. “The weather was great, so were the rides but it was definitely the people who made it the best.”
The girls took part in one workshop at the theme park, where they delved into theatrical, and then went on to do a tap and hip-hop training at Debbie Reynolds Studio in Los Angeles.
The studio, established in 1979, was the first one in the major centre that dance instructor and Steps owner Rhonda Michallik trained at.
Michallik’s career took off in Vancouver where she danced professionally before heading to Ontario for further work. It wasn’t long before the young dancer took her dream to New York, where she danced on Broadway.
With an intention to move to Los Angeles, Michallik returned home for a visit where she was overwhelmed with phone calls from dancers that a Trail studio was closing down. What was only to be a temporary career move turned into a nearly 20-year commitment to Trail.
“We’re so isolated from everything here,” said Michallik, who consistently takes time to learn new choreography in order to keep stimulated as an artist while doing the same for her dancers.
“This type of experience shows dancers that they can keep up calibre-wise.”
The new training is important for Macasso, who has a few years left with the company until she’ll have to think about her next move.
“The instructors we took classes from were very helpful. They provided lots of useful information. It was really inspiring because it makes me want to be like them. It just opens up my options for later on in the future.”
Ten-year-old Alexis Winters, who is striving toward a future in dance, said it was amazing to learn from dancers who are on their way to the top.
“To see that you can do stuff like that and learn little pointers, it gives you the information you need and confidence to dance,” she said.