Royales in NYC

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Royales in NYC

Johanna Svensson, Staff Writer

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The Royales participated in the 91st annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City through Spirit of America Productions (SoA) and spent nearly all of Thanksgiving break rehearsing for the performance as well as the weeks prior to the parade.

“The team was required to learn the parade dances before we landed in NYC through a video,” Captain Lexi Anderson said. “Individually it took the girls several hours to learn the choreography on their own time.”

Once the team learned the choreography at home, the girls ran the dance together in order to become more comfortable with the routine.

“As a team, we held practice in the days leading up to New York that were solely dedicated to perfecting and cleaning the routine,” Anderson said. “I went through the details with everyone during the practices in order to get everyone prepared for the long practices ahead in NYC.”

As captain, Anderson holds the highest position on the team and it comes with a great responsibility throughout the school year. This role continued during the trip and became even more important.

“On the trip I had to make sure everyone was where they were supposed to be and on time,” Anderson said. “I would take attendance before each rehearsal to ensure everyone was there.”

Not only was attendance important for all rehearsals, but specific costume and practice wear were required with each day. Anderson looked for all the pieces while she was watching the team during practices.

“During rehearsal I watched the team to make sure everyone was giving their best effort and applying corrections from the staff,” Anderson said. “I also checked to make sure the girls had every part of their costume and practice wear each day of the trip.”

Although Anderson had a lot on her mind, it left her with memories she will never forget.

“Walking through the streets of New York during parade day was truly a once in a lifetime experience,” Anderson said. “Looking up at all the buildings and seeing hundreds of people on rooftops and through windows waving at you and cheering you on is breathtaking. It made me feel like a real celebrity. Performing the actual dance in Herald Square in front of NBC cameras is also a moment I will never forget.”

Only a few minor problems occurred throughout the busy week but none of them stopped senior Stephanie Price from enjoying her Macy’s Parade performance.

“While walking and performing in the parade, besides being very very cold, I was so energetic and happy,” Price said. “It was great to hear all of the people, both on the streets and up in buildings, cheering and waving at us. The best part was making eye contact with someone and yelling ‘Happy Thanksgiving!’ as if we were having a brief conversation.”

The anticipation of performing built up as the Royales walked the 43 blocks and three avenues from the parade starting point to Herald Square where Macy’s is located.

“During the performance, the feeling was unreal,” Price said. “I’ve never danced with a camera for national television in my face before. The whole time I was trying to convince myself it was actually happening. Everyone on Royales worked so hard to get to that point, so it was crazy that the moment had finally arrived.”

On parade day, the SoA dancers had to be up and fully ready by 6 a.m. This meant most of the girls got up between 3a.m. and 4 a.m. to ensure they had time to do hair, make-up, eat and get fully dressed.

“The most difficult part about the parade, besides being freezing, was how exhausted we all were,” Price said. “The week leading up to the parade was non-stop. We were always doing something around New York whether it was rehearsing the dance or being a tourist in our sea of red jackets.”

It was not only parade day when the performers had to get up early. Most mornings there was a mandatory breakfast which meant meeting at 7 a.m. with a late bed check at 11 p.m.

“Nights were late and mornings were early,” Price said. “So by the time Thursday arrived, we were already exhausted.”

All of the girls had their own way of coping with the lack of sleep, but they all had one thing in common.

“There was no single way to prepare for our sleep deprivation besides drinking lots and lots of coffee,” Price said. “I think there were days when I got coffee three times just to make it through rehearsal.”

Attending the parade as a team was one of the aspects of the trip the Royales enjoyed most. The Royales are invited every other year to attend the parade with SoA, but many schools must audition in order to be in the routine. Because of this, the Royales were the largest group within the SoA organization.

“There was definitely a sense of unity between the Royales during the parade,” Price said.                          “Not only did we all stand next to each other in the formation and spend our whole week together, but all of us made it seem like we were in a normal practice in the Royale Gym back at West. We all supported each other and cheered each other on when the opportunity arose.”

The bond the girls on the team have is already so great, but events like these bring the team even closer together as one unit.

“I felt most unified as a team when we were waiting for the parade to start,” Price said. “We all used our Polar Shields to keep ourselves warm while sitting, and we kept our energy up when it seemed like the parade would never start.”

Price’s favorite part of parade day was getting to enjoy the experience with her friends as well as the dedicated director, Mrs. Hills.

“The best part of marching in the parade was when Mrs. Hills ran up next to us in the formation and started walking with us,” Price said. “We got to talk to her about how much fun we were having and how crazy it was that after planning the trip for months, the parade had finally arrived.”

The team began preparing for the trip last March and had the opportunity to begin learning the routine in early October. None of the regular Royale rehearsals could have prepared the team for the 5-8 hour rehearsal days.

“We practiced nearly every day of the trip for the performance,” senior Auburn Berry said. “Sunday we dedicated an entire day to cleaning and polishing our routine.”

Because the group of dancers was so large, the long hours of practices were necessary, as all of the girls had never danced in that big of a group.

“Having 600 girls in our routine made the practices very tedious,” Berry said. “To get every single one of us to do the exact same thing was very difficult and required many hardworking hours.”

Like Anderson and Price, Berry enjoyed the trip and experience despite the countless hours that were put into preparing for the performance.

“Although the trip was exhausting and very demanding, overall, I really enjoyed it,” Berry said. “I now have memories that will last a lifetime, and I got to make them with my best friends.”


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About the Writer
Johanna Svensson, Staff Writer

Senior Johanna Svensson is a staff member for the Plano West Blueprints. She is involved in National Honor Society (NHS) and Quill & Scroll. Svensson...

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Royales in NYC