Five local teens learn from Disney Performing Arts
W Five teens are still reeling from their whirlwind trip to Disneyland.
The local performers are part of the Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede (YC) and had the opportunity in February to spend five days in Southern California learning acting, puppetry, dance, vocals and musical theatre from professionals with Disney Performing Arts.
“It was pretty much the experience of a lifetime,” said Cassie Groves, 16, who joined YC this year.
“They took us under their wings and shared with us how to get into the industry,” explained Groves.
Groves, Quintin Velcic, Megan Bialas, Celine Simard and Audessa Parafina were five of the 45 senior YC students who travelled south Feb. 13 to 18.
Megan Bialas, 18, who has been with YC for four years, said the group typically does a spring show in February but this year opted to travel to the U.S. for workshops instead.
“It felt like we were there for so much longer because of how much we managed to do,” she said of the jam-packed days that had the students on the go for as much as 18 hours in some instances.
In addition to the workshops, the group performed for the public on Saturday and Sunday on a stage set up outdoors.
“We’re used to performing for a set audience where people buy tickets in advance and you know exactly who is coming,” she explained.
“Here, people could walk in for a couple of numbers and then leave. It was exciting when people would come to the show and stayed and they had no connection to us.”
Also new for the group was performing a non-stop, 25-minute show that had the performers singing live.
Velcic, 16, has been with the YC for seven years and said typically a show runs for an hour-and-a-half but features the junior level dancers as well so the seniors typically get a break and a chance to change costumes. Also, the singing is usually pre-recorded.
“It was definitely a good challenge,” he said.
The group went to Disney with a prepared choreography but didn’t have a chance to practise the routine on the stage they performed on which was smaller than what they were used to.
Velcic went to Disney in the past with his school band. This was his first time with YC.
“Both times were great experiences,” he said. “They treated you like professionals.”
For Simard, 14, this was her first time at the park.
“It was really fun,” she said. “We got to do tons of workshops and experience what they (Disney performers) do,” she said.
Parafina went to Disney last year as well. She said it was great getting to go again, and said it was a bit harder this time because they changed up the program.
She said typically groups that travel to the park either dance or sing, with YC, they do both.
The five Airdrie students said Disney is looking to attract more performing groups with this skill set and while they were there, they did some video work which will be used to showcase new programming.
“The teachers are previous performers,” said Simard, who added they have backgrounds performing on Broadway, cruise ships and at Disney.
“A lot of people in YC are looking to expand beyond (in their career),” said Bialas.
“To work with people in the business and learn tips on auditions and to see that they had ‘made it’ was impressive.”