By Brooke Deasy, Staff Reporter
Confetti shooting, body racing, cameras flashing, floats rolling and thanksgiving dinner stirring hot on its plates. For some, watching or attending a parade is an enjoyable holiday tradition. However, to partake in such an event requires grueling hours of practice and loads of dedication.
As a member of the Betsy Daily School of Performing Arts, a dance company in Berwyn, Pa., I participated in 6ABC’s Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade, held in Philadelphia, is currently the oldest Thanksgiving parade in the U.S. Starting in 1920 as the Gimbels Thanksgiving Day Parade, this year marked its 97th holiday showing.
The practice required to participate in such an event is no lackadaisical effort. The instant my dance teacher received the music and prepared choreography, rehearsals were scheduled. 26 dancers participated in two jazz dance numbers during the parade: True Joy of Christmas and the finale. Ironically, the event was largely Christmas themed, despite Thanksgiving centered floats of turkeys.
Not only did we practice roughly 20 hours at the studio, but had to trek to the city for three days of rehearsals prior to the event. Depending on traffic, it took us about two to two-and-a-half hours to travel to and from the city, when the time we actually danced was minimal. The first day we practiced for 1 hour, the second 30 minutes and the third, with full costume and makeup, 10 minutes.
For me, the bus rides were a huge inconvenience. With everyone bringing dance bags, winter jackets, food and sometimes costumes, I could barely find room to breathe. When we got to the city, we didn’t just hop off of the bus, rehearse and leave. No- we had to wait for two hours on the stuffy bus. Although, staying in Philadelphia for those days would have been favorable, such situations definitely brought me closer to my team, and made for some unforgettable memories. Not to mention, I had a reason to sleep in and miss some of the next day of school.
I really enjoyed the city rehearsals. Having to adjust formations to a new area, pick up choreography changes, and keep track of spacing with many other dancers, were all great experience. Everything about it was very professional, and the staff made us feel welcomed and appreciated. The director of our dances was meticulous, making sure that every formation and prop placement was perfectly positioned.
By the night of the performance, I was overly excited and hardly got any sleep. Of course, having to wake up at 2:45 a.m. sure did help. I had to get to the studio by 4:15 a.m. to put on my costume and get on the bus, with full hair and makeup. We had to be wide awake and smiley for a 6 a.m. rehearsal, and would not be arriving home until 1:15 p.m.
Was the parade a true joy, or an unnecessary hassle? I always look forward to Thanksgiving, my absolute favorite meal/holiday of the year, and was skeptical of the placement of a performance on such a treasured day. However, the parade completely blew my expectations, signifying a day of key experience and enjoyment. Despite the prolonged bus rides, late night and early morning rehearsals, and long finale dresses prone to tripping, I had a grand time.
November 24th, 2016, will not be remembered for its roasting turkey and creamy potatoes, but as the longest day of my life- a day of true joy that I will always remember.
Brooke Deasy can be reached at email@example.com.