Monday, June 24, 2024

ICYMI: Look for Local Dancers in Macy’s 2023 Thanksgiving Day Parade

The 14 Institute for Dancer heading to New York City. (photo cred: Creative Worth Photography)

WILLIAMSBURG — Fourteen dancers from the Institute for Dance (iDance) in Williamsburg will travel to New York City to perform in the nationally televised Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

This year, the 97th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will take place on Thursday, Nov. 23 beginning at 8:30 a.m. on the streets of New York City.

The dancers will perform with 600 to 700 other Spirit of America Dance Stars, which includes teen performers and dancers, ages 13 to 18, selected from schools, studios and all-star gyms from across the country.

Besides Santa and the Rockettes, the Spirit of America organization is the only other performing group invited to the perform at the parade every year.

The Institute for Dance students were selected through a video audition process and have fundraised the past few months to help offset travel costs.

“We are super excited to have been chosen,” stated Kathy Palmo, Studio Director, “We had a parent suggest we audition. We sent in the video sort of tongue-in-cheek thinking, ‘what are the odds?’ And, the universe smiled on us!”

Palmo explained that the dancers are sent a video with choreography in the weeks leading up to the parade and are expected to learn the steps on their own and come to New York prepared to perform it.

After arriving in New York on Saturday, Nov. 18, all the dancers from around the country will come together and rehearse long hours to clean and perfect the performance as a group.

When not in rehearsals the dancers, as a group, will attend the Radio City Christmas spectacular, see a Broadway show, visit the Empire State Building, take a Circle Line Statue of Liberty boat tour and create memories while in the Big Apple.

Mason Nguyen, 15, performed in the parade last year with a different dance group. “I grew up watching the parade on TV every Thanksgiving morning, so to be able to perform, not once but twice, is really special for me.”

Mason Nguyen waves during the 2022 performance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. (Photo: Helen Nguyen)

Nguyen said that the anticipation and excitement is even greater this year.

“I already know all the special moments that lie ahead for my friends and can’t wait to see them experience this magical week in New York City. Many of the 14 dancers have been dancing together since we were very young. We feel like family and that extra bond of friendship we have will make our week even more special.”

The opportunity is extra special for Nguyen’s younger sister, Isabella Nguyen. The 13-year-old will join her brother on the parade route this year as part of the team.

Last year, as a spectator, Isabella watched the show from the side.

“The excitement that fills the air on Thanksgiving morning is hard to explain. The parade route is lined with excited spectators as far as you can see,” she said. “I watched my brother and all the performers experience the thrill of marching and dancing through the streets of New York city streets and those moments will stay with them forever. More than 3.5 million people attend the parade in person each year and it’s on national television.”

Institute for Dance Macy’s Thanksgiving Day performers. (photo: IDance)

Palmo added there is a lot of work, time, organization and preparation that these dancers have taken on.

“The kids are excited and have been working really hard to juggle all the other things they are committed to do as well,” she said. “I am so proud of them for handling everything with such maturity and grace because it is a lot!”

“Our elaborate parade costumes have arrived, and we have been working hard to perfect our choreography.” Isabella exclaimed, “We can’t wait to perform for America!”

Locally, the community can see the Institute for Dance dancers perform in person at the Kimball Theatre in “Christmas Dreams” on Dec. 9 and 10.

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