Seven Flathead Valley dancers will perform before a national audience at the 92nd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City this fall. The dancers are all students of the Academy of the Performing Arts in Kalispell. The dance studio has offered classes in ballet, tap and jazz, among other disciplines, for over 20 years.
Studio owner Shoni Jaeger said her school caught the attention of parade organizers thanks to a workshop the academy hosted the previous year that brought in choreographers and well-known dance teachers. Following the workshop, Jaeger said attendees with connections in the entertainment industry placed the Academy in a database of qualified performers, which is how parade staff came across them. Jaeger said the specific number her students will be performing in the parade is still in the works, but she hopes to know more by July.
“To get the letter saying that we were referred was a great honor,” Jaeger said. “It was pretty cool for a small town — we were really excited. I know I was a little shocked.”
The dancers who qualified for the Big Apple include: Sydney Fletcher, 15, of Kalispell; Kira Hadland, 13, of Kalispell; Teslyn Hartman, 16, of Kalispell; Aurora Kelly, 14, of Kalispell; Isabel Phillips, 12, of Marion; Alyssa Roberts, 15, of Kalispell; and Laura Symmes, 17, of Kalispell.
To get there, each dancer will have to fundraise $2,750 to cover their week-long stay in New York City, plus the cost of airfare.
“They’re going to be fundraising all summer,” Jaeger said.
The dancers will pay their way by hosting local dance workshops, car washes and even doing yard work or cleaning as “dancers for hire.”
“They’re working for it, which is great,” she added.
The studio will also be seeking donations to help cover the dancers’ expenses, which can be made by calling 755-0139 or sending an email to email@example.com.