‘Thrill of a lifetime’: 49 Lubbock dancers to perform in Disney World’s holiday spectacular

Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 5:26 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 20, 2023 at 6:28 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - 49 Lubbock dancers are getting their shot at the magical stage in Disney World. The dancers range from 4th graders to 12th graders who will perform in Florida the beginning of next month.

“It’s just such a magical experience,” one dancer, Kendall Cathey, said. “It’s something that I wait for every year.”

This will be the sixth time the Dance Gallery School of Dance Arts has taken students to Disney World in Orlando, Florida for the Dance the Magic Elite Holiday Spectacular.

“It’s quite a thrill for these parents to see their children leading the parade, parading down Main Street USA with the iconic Disney castle behind them,” the owner of the studio, Karla McNeill, said.

McNeill adds these girls have worked for months. Auditions started in March, and their first rehearsal was in August. Then, Disney had to give them the stamp of approval.

“Disney is very particular of the people that come down the parade route,” McNeill said. “So, we’ve had a video audition with Disney and they passed us through.”

Dancers sharpened their skills one last time at home this past Saturday for their last full dress rehearsal. Then, right before the parade they will rehearse backstage for Disney officials who pick the leader of the parade.

“The Dance Gallery dancers have been fortunate, and we have led the parade two years running and we’re hoping for a repeat this year because we’re taking some great talent,” McNeill said.

As the music starts and the parade is kicking off, McNeill said it’s a magical Disney moment for the parents.

“So, it’s a thrill of a lifetime,” McNeill said.

Cathey adds it is for the dancers as well.

“The first time going down that parade route is unreal,” Cathey said. “It’s something that I’ll never forget.”

After all the memories, this will be Cathey’s fourth and final Disney trip, but she plans to continue cheering on those who danced alongside her before.

“Personally, I have a sister in this, so I get to watch her these next couple of years and I’ve gotten to watch all of these little kids in this room blossom and let their personalities really show through these dances,” Cathey said.

They will perform at Disney World on Dec. 3 in the parade and in a showcase on the Beauty and the Beast stage.