Medina Journal-Register — This summer 23 local families will vacation to Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
Their trip will include one day of business, though, as the kids in those families will be performing in the Magic Kingdom during the stay.
Medina’s Dance Theater, owned by Brandon Johnson, normally sees its competition dance teams do national shows over the summer. This year, Johnson said he submitted his dancers for consideration for a spot in Disney’s performing arts program. Getting notified the squads were chosen was “exciting” for the Dance Theater director.
“I’ve put a lot of work into the studio,” Johnson said. “It’s a chance for the performance of a lifetime for these kids because they’ve never done anything in front of a crowd this size.”
The ages of the dancers making the trip from July 1 to 5 range from the lower grades of elementary school to high school upperclassmen. Many have never been on a plane, let alone to Florida.
Melanie Hibbard, 12, and Dominique Hughes, 16, were among those who have never been to Disney World. They agreed it was going to be a fun trip, but they also said they were looking forward to showing off their moves.
“We’re gonna bring it,” said Hibbard of the hip-hop dance team.
Hughes said the likely large size of the audience will help all the dancers in the long run. “We’ll be dancing in front of a big crowd, and that’s good because it will help us not be so shy.”
The girls added that they were both looking forward to meeting characters, going on some of the more renown rides, shopping, and, according to Hibbard, dressing like a princess.
As for their choice to start hip-hop dance training in the first place, Hibbard and Hughes called the style one of the more fun ones being taught in dance studios today.
“It’s fast and booty-poppin’!” said Hibbard, leading to a chuckle from Hughes.
Added Hughes, “I think it’s more of a way to express yourself and just have fun with it.”
The excitement over traveling to Florida was universal for the class, as the younger students at the Dance Theater also found it hard to contain their enthusiasm.
Olivia Eaton, 9, said the July trip will be fun because it will give the class a chance to dance in front of a large crowd. However, Izabella Murphy, 7, said she and the rest of the dancers have performed in front of many people before “at recitals here at the high school with a thousand people.”
Together, the girls giggled a little bit at that statement, seeming to know that several thousand will likely see them on stage in Disney World.
Meanwhile, as the weekly practices and rehearsals continue, Johnson said the dancers set to head south will hold several fundraisers to help defray the costs of the trip. The first, a coupon calendar of sorts, began today.
“We’re selling calendars for $5 apiece,” Johnson said. “Every day we’re drawing two gift cards per day and we’re giving them away to people who bought calendars.” The gift cards are to larger chain restaurants and department stores so that dancers can sell them to non-local relatives.
More fundraisers are planned, Johnson noted. In March, he said the Dance Theater will welcome the Las Vegas-style illusion show Extreme Illusions and Escapes to Medina. Also planned are a 50-50, a basket raffle, a dinner and several others.
“Our fundraising goal is $10,000,” Johnson said. “We’re not looking to pay for the whole trip, but I do want the kids to work for it a little bit.”
Johnson said he took a dance team to Disney World several years ago, and he said he is looking forward to the same type of excitement this time around.
“I’m going for the kids because I want them to have this experience,” he said. “Not many kids will get an experience like this…and it’s exciting for them.”