Our 2019 Los Angeles Adventure!

Our team has just returned to Perth from an exciting trip to Los Angeles – find out more in our wrap-up post!

In April 2019, over 20 WA Performance School dancers of all ages jetted off to attend the Dance Excellence weeklong international event in Los Angeles, California! WAPS was honoured to be invited to attend twice in two years (high praise from organisers!), for a full week of masterclasses, workshops, sightseeing opportunities, and performances. Our team had been training hard for months, with regular Sunday rehearsals for our Disneyland performance and our International Performance Board (IPB) examinations, and we were ready to showcase the results of our hard work. The team knew it would be a challenge, with full days of workshops with some of the world’s best dancers and choreographers – find out how we fared in our US adventure below and be sure to scroll down to check out our video of highlights from the trip!

WAPS Dance Excellence Team Flight

WAPS Dance Excellence Team Flight

Sunday 14th April

Team members who opted to join our group WAPS flight touched down in LA early in the morning, energised and ready for our first day (okay, maybe a little jetlagged!). Our Dance Excellence shuttle brought us safely to the LAX Marriott, our four star home for the next week. After an incredibly inspiring welcome, and performance workshop with Bill & Robyn Brawley of the Young Americans, we unpacked and relaxed, already meeting new friends from all corners of the earth. Our goal for the week was to build connections with other studios and dancers, and we kicked off the evening in style with a delicious buffet dinner, the Bounce & Beats Party where we enjoyed bounce houses, inflatables, obstacle courses, games, meeting new people, and of course the inevitable dance-off that occurs when a thousand dancers get together!

Monday 15th April

The first official day of workshops, Monday kicked off with a delicious breakfast buffet before we split into our workshop groups – depending on age, dancers learned anything from ballet to lyrical to hip hop, with master teachers who are world leaders in their field. “Mothers and Others” (Dance Excellence’s affectionate term for parent and family chaperones who were still registered members of the Dance Excellence event) had their first optional day trip, exploring Manhattan Beach – we hear the people watching was second to none!
After a buffet lunch, classes continued all afternoon until our early dinner. After dinner, the much-anticipated Monday Night Live performance, featuring a star-studded cast including some of our master teachers, gave us a chance to see some of the world’s leading dancers and choreographers’ work, all on the one stage. We had the best seats in the house and were humbled by the amount of talent onstage before us!

Tuesday 16th April

On Tuesday we were up bright and early for breakfast before the morning’s workshops. A number of us agreed that our favourite workshop that day was the African dance workshop – it was something new for many of our team members, and included live drumming, which really set the tone and got us excited and moving! Another standout was Joelle Martinec’s lyrical class, though we all agreed Mallauri Esquibel’s Jazz workshop really had us on our toes with fast-paced choreography that inspired us but also challenged us! The mothers and others enjoyed a trip to the Getty Museum, and then in the evening we took a fun bus trip together to the Pantages theatre where we enjoyed a professional production of Fiddler on the Roof in the beautiful and historic theatre.

WAPS Team Members with Melissa Sandvig

WAPS Team Members with Melissa Sandvig

Wednesday 17th April

Wednesday gave us a chance to work on the goals we had set the day prior in our WAPS Travel Journals (which all students received to record their thoughts, memories, and enjoy some relaxation and mindfulness activities). Some of our dancers smashed their goals by challenging themselves to take a place at the front of workshops, while others took the chance to reflect on their achievements and improvements from the past few days. When asked in our journals what we were most looking forward to doing tomorrow, we ALL answered “DISNEYLAND!”. We had worked hard all year on our Disneyland choreography, and the excitement was building. Our mothers and others enjoyed a day trip to Santa Monica beach while we continued working hard in classes – on Wednesday we met and befriended dancers from England, Illinois, Hawaii and more!

WAPS at Disneyland

WAPS at Disneyland

Thursday 18th April

Disney Day! We departed on coaches loaded up with our sparkly Disney costumes, and headed for the LA Disneyland park, joined by our mothers and others – plus, local family and friends, or other guests, could also watch our performance at the park too! We absolutely smashed our performance – despite the nerves, or some of us feeling sick, our team performed beautifully and it was a great way to kick off our daylong adventure at Disneyland! After exploring rides, attractions, restaurants, shopping, and the quintessential Disney parades, we headed back to the hotel. Our Company Dancers, Kate M and Sophie C rehearsed with the DEX Company, an extra special opportunity for our top dancers to learn with Bill & Robyn Brawley, gaining extra tuition, mentoring and performance opportunities.

Friday 19th April

Friday was a big day for us – we did not have any workshops, instead some of our dancers participated in the International Performance Board examinations. With high-level choreography, beautiful costumes, and even creative hair changes, our seniors and adults nailed their three routines. We were honoured to receive three awards for these performances, including the “Excellence” award, for coming in the top 10th percentile of the entire IPB performances – this was especially rewarding as a few of our team members were sick or under the weather, and yet they put on one of the most impressive performances we’ve seen! In the evening, we got to experience the Dance Excellence Gala Dinner. After a beautiful plated dinner, we watched the awards presentations, and enjoyed the Company show. We did manage to film some of Sophie and Kate’s solos in the show, though we did cheer so loud for our teammates that the videos are a little on the loud side! Once the afterparty was out of the way, it was back into our warm beds for one last night of sleep before the festival was over for another year.

WAPS Team 2019

WAPS Team 2019

Saturday 20th April

Saturday brought one last breakfast with our international friends before we parted ways! It was also a day of reflection and gratitude for the huge week we’d just experienced. Some of the most memorable lessons that we learned from our master teachers included:

– Don’t cross your arms when standing or waiting your turn, because you may appear rude or unwilling to guest instructors or audition panels.
– It’s important to make a dance your own – add your own flavour and style! If there’s something in a dance that you can’t do, do what you want instead.
– Always be open to accepting different choreography.
– Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes better.

As we hopped on the shuttle to begin our long journey back home we reflected on our achievements that week, which included being open to new styles and ways of dancing, adding our own personal touch to our dances, and giving everything 100%. What a huge and transformative week – we were very lucky to share it with such a supportive and encouraging group, GO TEAM WAPS!

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