Dancing in the streets
t will be hard to miss a group of Nashua dancers as they march along the New York City parade route for next week’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The 21 girls between the ages of 14 and 16 from the Academy of Movement will be wearing shiny orange, yellow, green or hot pink jackets – definitely fluorescent – with matching headbands, sequined belts, shimmery mock turtlenecks and black leggings.
At their final New Hampshire rehearsal earlier this week, the girls were still warming up to the loud uniforms, but were already giddy with excitement about dancing for a crowd that will number in the hundreds of thousands.
“I think it’s really overwhelming to be on TV in front of so many people,” said Joy Batra of Nashua.
The girls leave Saturday for Manhattan via charter bus. After they reach the city, they will hook up with the rest of a group of 400 dancers from across the country to practice their parade routine. The dance moves were choreographed by Mike Miller Associates, a Macy’s subcontractor known for its work on halftime shows for major sporting events, including the Rose Bowl.
The girls will march the length of the route, along the Avenue of the Americas, and will stop to perform the dance routine in front of the flagship Macy’s department store at the intersection of _34th Street and Sixth Avenue.
On Sunday, instructor Laurie Lacasse-Lucier put her soon-to-be New York showgirls through the moves, using an instructional videotape sent by Mike Miller Associates.
“One and two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight,” Lacasse-Lucier called out, as the girls worked to stay with the beat and coordinate jazz dance-style hand jives, sassy shaking, fancy footwork and a host of other moves to the tune “Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas.”
“It’s fast-paced. It’s a blend of different things and you get to express yourself more,” dancer Lindsay Kozlowski said of the jazz routine, comparing it with other styles of dance.
“They’re supposed to watch it at home and practice themselves,” said Cindy DellaCamera, the chairwoman of the group’s fund-raising committee.
Some of the Academy of Movement dancers have been with the school for more than 10 years. Over the past several months, the girls, hailing from Nashua, Hollis and Merrimack, have held several fund-raisers to help defray the trip’s cost of $1,500 per participant.
In addition to marching and dancing in the parade, they will take in a Broadway performance of “The Lion King” and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes. The latter is a big hit with the dancers.
“I want to be a Rockette!” said Chelsea Fitten of Hollis, acknowledging she needs to grow another inch and that she would need to learn to kick her legs “really, really high” to make the troupe that recently kicked the Boston Ballet out of its longtime home at the Wang Center for the Performing Arts in Boston.
The girls will also tour the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building and have a dance class with choreographer Frank Hatchett while in New York. Even the dress rehearsal on Tuesday evening at Herald Square will be exciting, Lacasse-Lucier said. The dancers will feel like stars while the NBC cameras shine brightly, using the occasion to check their lighting for the big event on Thanksgiving Day.
There’s a good chance that viewers at home will be able to catch the troupe on TV, Lacasse-Lucier said.
“The dancers have been televised every year,” she said.
This is the first year that local dancers have participated in the parade, and it is the opportunity of a lifetime, said Lacasse-Lucier, who responded to an inquiry from parade organizers to get spots in the parade for her dancers.
While a few of the girls may someday dance professionally, it is unlikely any will ever have a bigger audience than the one that will be gathered in Manhattan and in front of television sets across the country next week, Lacasse-Lucier said.
“I envision them in their 70s,” she said. “They can say to their grandchildren, ‘Did I tell you about the time I danced in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?’ ”