Odessa Churchill salutes the crowd. (Photo by Annie Aguiar)

The Dancerettes will be performing in New York

October 28, 2016

The email she had been waiting for popped up in her inbox. Her heart jumped and she immediately opened it. “I was so excited I started jumping all over the place and showing the message to my family,” Odessa Churchill said.

After four years of waiting, senior Dancerettes got their opportunity to try out for a spot in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Five girls who tried out made the cut and four of them will be dancing in the parade.

Aside from the parade, the Dancerettes will be attending various attractions in New York, including a Broadway show, a tour of the Empire State Building and the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. However, for Churchill the most appealing part of New York is Pace University, the school she plans to attend next fall.

Churchill hopes that dancing in the parade is something unique she can add to her resume that will set her apart from other applicants. “I started dancing when I was 4,” Churchill said. “It’s been the one thing I’ve always truly been passionate about.”

Under pressure

The Dancerettes have a full schedule planned with practice, learning the routines and exploring New York. There are approximately 1,000 participants who have less than a week to learn the routines and prepare to perform in front of the 3.5 million people who go to watch the parade every year and the millions more watching on television.

However, the Dancerettes are used to performing under pressure. Their summer dance camp and last-minute pep rallies force them to learn quickly. “It’s a little bit nerve-wracking since we are going to be on TV,” Olivia Lane said, “but I’m not too nervous especially since we will all be learning it together.”

Expensive Excursion

Cost was an issue that each of the Dancerettes had to face. They created GoFundMe accounts to compensate for the steep price of $2,225 each plus airfare. “I had to pay for it all myself,” Liz Linton said, “so I had to find a way to ask all my family and friends that don’t live near me.” She received 10 donations totaling $2,000.

Sonya Veerjee was also unwilling to let the price deter her. “It was quite expensive, but I was still really hoping to be able to experience it,” Veerjee said.

She raised around $1,000 to help her pay for a trip she said would be a great experience and an “opportunity to do something I love in a city that I love.”

There are two girls who will not be attending, but they are not sad about passing up the opportunity. Julia Slater decided not to go due to a mission trip she plans on attending in Guatemala. “The mission trip is more important to me since I will be able to help people and explore a different country,” Slater said.

Staying behind

Lastly, Nicole Hernandez is glad to celebrate Thanksgiving at home, especially since her parents are moving to Panama. This is the last year she will spend in her childhood home so she wants to make it special. On top of that, Thanksgiving Day is also her 18th birthday.

“I wanted to spend it with my family rather than at the parade,” Hernandez said.

It has been six years since the Hernandez family moved, but that’s unusual because, due to her dad’s job, they’ve been used to moving every three years. Even more unusual to their routine, this is the first time Nicole is staying behind, but she thinks the family is ready for a change. “I have always known that they would be moving once I got to college so it’s not a new idea to me,” Hernandez said. Her parents are moving out of the country, but she is glad to stay in the U.S. to attend college next year.

This will not be the last opportunity for the senior Dancerettes to perform together. They have several more opportunities before they graduate such as Solo and Ensemble, pep rallies and the marching and auxiliary competition.

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