DUBAI // A troupe of 22 young dancers is heading to Disneyland Paris this week to perform for crowds at the theme park.
Step Up Academy, based in Motor City, will be twirling and pirouetting on stage in one of the biggest theme parks in Europe.
The expat youngsters, aged eight to 15, from 14 countries from Colombia to Egypt, Lebanon to Italy, will perform their 20-minute piece to more than a thousand spectators.
The young group got its break after submitting a Bollywood performance on video to the judges in France.
“We are so proud to have been invited to perform on such a globally recognised stage and in doing so, represent the UAE,” said the academy’s manager and choreographer, Victoria Lovering.
“Our students and our dance teachers have worked incredibly hard to achieve this acknowledgement from Disneyland Paris.
“They are all truly passionate about dance, which has shone through during the audition period and we are confident that our group of talented youngsters are going to wow the audiences with their performance.”
During their trip to Disneyland, the students and teachers will take a workshop with the resort’s musical theatre and dance professionals.
Each year, Disney Performing Arts OnStage opens the door for amateur groups from around the world to taste the experience of being a Disney performer for a day; open to instrumental, choral, dance and parade groups.
The five songs for the performances, which will include street jazz and hip hop, all represent diversity, including We Go Together, from the movie Grease, and We Are One, a World Cup anthem.
Lina Jouha’s daughter Lourdes, 8, is one of the youngest children taking part in the performance.
The dancer and gymnast spends four days a week training at the dance academy, on weekends or after school.
“This has been a beautiful way for us to see her true capacity,” said Mrs Jouha. “We never knew she had this in her.
“She’s grown in confidence so much and seeing her on stage, we have learnt more about her.”
Although Lourdes is nervous, aware of the pressure of the international stage in France, only used to the likes so far of smaller school performances, Mrs Jouha said: “Doing things like this are really inspiring her to see there is a career in this if she wants it.
“She is talking about wanting to be a dancer and doing this trip, is the kind of thing which gives her access to that experience and to help her grow her confidence.”
Mihai Sarbu, a hand balancing and aerial performer based in Dubai, said performing at such international events is a positive way to highlight UAE talent.
“It’s great experience for these children to do this. It’s a big venue with high expectations on the performers and it will teach the kids how to deal with real time stage pressure.
“It’s different when you’re at home, when you know many people in the audience, when the venues are small, but something like this takes you more into the world of a professional performer,” he said.
Performing and competing on the international stage since he was a teenager, Mr Sarbu said: “They will see how things work from the lighting to the dress rehearsals, and it will be a good learning experience to take them out of their comfort zone. It will really help them understand if it’s something they want to pursue more seriously.”