Dance students Madison Haley and Aleasha Pearson.
Dance students Madison Haley and Aleasha Pearson. Photo Supplied

Dancers to strut their stuff in USA

HAPPY feet belonging to 20 students will be dancing their way across America this week.

Principal and artistic director Cathy Carlson said this would be the eighth American dance tour for the Happy Feet Performance Academy.

“The students will go to Disneyland, primary schools in Las Vegas and on a cruise ship and will do 10 to 15 shows all up,” Ms Carlson said.

“It is such an awesome time for the children and I think it broadens their cultural and educational experiences too.

“We were the first dance group from the Gold Coast to go to America in 1995 and then went again in 1996, 1998 and 2000.

“After September 11 we didn't go for a few years but have been in 2005 and 2007 and now this year.”

Ms Carlson said the dance tour was open to all abilities in the academy.

“I don't audition anyone or choose the “best” students to go – the only requirement is that they regularly come to class,” she said.

Ms Carlson said she had danced since she was a child and at 17 was asked to start teaching and within six months was teaching 80 women.

“At 17 my parents said I should be teaching kids and we started up Happy Feet together as a family business,” she said.

“Within a year we had 300 students and still have about that many students with ages ranging from two to 72.”

Students have been rehearsing for the past six months and although some students have been on the tour before but for most it will be their first time overseas.

Stephanie James, 14 is a Happy Feet student and has joined the other students on the tour.

“I started dancing at the age of three and a half at Happy Feet Performance Academy and started in the tinies (before school) age group and am now in seniors which means we perform more dances in the two concerts in the year,” Stephanie said.

“I have heard about other America trips that Happy Feet have been on and I thought it might be my only opportunity to dance in America seeing as I'm about to start my senior year at St Andrews Lutheran College and I'm so excited to be going.”

Stephanie said she got a job at McDonalds so she could contribute to paying for the dance tour.

“It has been hard to juggle around my dancing days and school, but it has really helped to pay for some of my trip,” she said.

The students will be in America for three weeks and Ms Carlson said they would never forget the experience.

The academy has studios at Burleigh Heads, Pacific Pines, Miami and Banora Point. Visit www.happyfeet.com.au.



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