Gail Palmer, lower school performing arts lead teacher, dubbed this year’s lower school dance concert, “Dancing at Disneyland,” “The Happiest Dance Show on Earth” – and anyone in attendance would be hard-pressed to disagree! For some audience members, the enchanted evening in late May provided a monumental trip down memory lane; for others, it was every bit as magical as a visit to their all-time favorite theme park.
“Mickey and Minnie Mouse greeted the audience upon arrival as Disney music played in the Bucknall Theater. Once the show began, they were transported on a journey to the original theme park that Walt Disney opened in 1955,” Palmer said.
Under the direction of Palmer, with assistance provided by Kimberly Teodoro and Jessalyn Espiritu, the concert featured 250 students in grades 1 through 5 dancing around a wonderland of fanciful props, sets and slides.
“The children performed with energy, enthusiasm and smiles that would have made Walt Disney proud,” Palmer noted. “A true Bucknall community event, 23 faculty and staff dancers were in three different routines. They rocked the stage as Disney tourist; Matterhorn Bobsled enthusiast, complete with the Abominable Snowman along for the ride; and some Grim Grinning Ghosts were found dancingly haunting the stage.”
Each performance was cleverly assigned the name of a popular Disneyland attraction, parade, ride, shop or show, with 11 of 29 lively numbers choreographed by Palmer herself, including the opening and closing routines set to the Academy Award-winning song “When You Wish Upon a Star” from the animated musical fantasy film “Pinocchio” and “Happy” by singer-songwriter, rapper, record producer and fashion designer Pharrell Williams.
Palmer said Disneyland is a special place and the theme made for a very special dance concert. The eight themed lands at Disneyland came to life through the dance routines, music, costumes, slides, props and set design. Mickey Mouse even high-kicked his way across the stage, making a featured appearance in the routine “Mickey” that paid homage to the mouse himself.
Palmer said it takes many people to create a show of this magnitude. She credits the choreographers, including Teodoro and Espiritu, as well as technical director Danny Dunn and the production staff for their inspired work.
Whether a princess or a pirate, a mouse or a Jedi Knight, there was something for everyone at the Harker stage otherwise known as the Magic Kingdom. The audience left the performance feeling that it truly was “The Happiest Dance Show on Earth.”