Dancing in the city: Local dancers headed to the Big Apple

Published 7:00 am Saturday, July 18, 2015

in sync: These girls will be dancing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

in sync: These girls will be dancing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

This Thanksgiving, millions of people will tune in to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, which is held in New York City.
This year, the crowds will be wowed by the dancing talents of 14 dancers from Picayune.
During a recent Picayune Memorial High School Pride of the Tide dance team tryout, judge Dawn Herrin selected and offered these young ladies the chance of a lifetime, Cheri Cuevas said. Cuevas’ daughter, Ashton was one of the girls selected and Cheri is one of the parents organizing the group’s fundraising efforts.
Herrin is a recruiter for Spirit of America Productions, Cuevas said, and judges high school dance and cheer competitions. She also invites performers to participate in the parade, Cuevas said.
“It’s such an honor for these girls,” Cuevas said. “They work really hard. This was an outsider that come to judge and it’s nice to hear someone brag about your own child and see how talented they are.”
Before the young ladies head to the Big Apple, they must first raise the funds needed for travel and other planned activities, Cuevas said.
They will leave on Saturday, November 20 and return home on November 27, Cuevas said. During that week, they will practice their routine and also visit some of New York’s most iconic attractions including the Rockettes, Broadway, Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, she said.
The cost for the trip is about $35,000 and the group of dancers, now known as Picayune Dancers, will be hosting a few community fundraising events during the next few months, Cuevas said.
On Saturday, July 25 and Saturday, August 22 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., the dancers will be hosting a can shake at the intersection of Hwy. 11 and Hwy. 43 N.
A pancake fundraising event will be at Applebee’s from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. The cost is $5 per ticket and a $3 coupon for a future visit to Applebee’s will be included.
On Saturday, August 15, the dancers will host a 5K Run/Walk, Jail and Bail, raffles and a silent auction. The event will also feature a New York style hot dog stand and music by Ace DJ Service. The group is asking local businesses for donations to be used in raffles or auctions, Cuevas said.
During the month of October, Henleyfield Haunt Barn will donate .25 cents of each ticket sold.
More fundraisers are planned and will be announced at a later date, Cuevas said.
The group has set up a GoFundMe account at www.gofundme.com/mstonyc to receive cash donations.
The young ladies performing in the parade, range in age from 14 to 16 and include Aliyah Morrison, Kate Spiers, Katelynn Goar, Sarah Williams, Cameron Carter, Kassie Balsamo, Elizabeth Taggard, Ashton Cuevas, Taylor Gregory, Haylee Davis, Jewlia Peoples and Myah Harper.
At a recent practice, the girls expressed their excitement over being invited to participate in the parade. Each girl has been perfecting their dance moves since they were toddlers.
Morrison said she was speechless when she heard the news.
It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Morrison said. “I’m blessed to dance with these amazing and talented girls. I’ll cherish the moment forever.”
Peoples said she enjoys expressing her personality through dance.
“I feel honored,” she said. “I’ve never danced in something this big before and I’ve been practicing every day.”
Spiers said the dance team plays an important role during high school sporting events.
“It makes a difference when we perform at the games,” Spiers said. “I was super excited when I found out. My grandmother was a majorette in high school and she performed in the parade. It’s cool that we can do the same thing.”
Davis said it makes her happy to perform in front of people.
“It’s awesome to be picked for the parade,” Davis said. “This will be my first trip to New York and it’s exciting to travel.”
Cuevas said it will be good to represent Picayune.
“I like performing because it shows people what you’ve been working and practicing for,” Cuevas said.
Gregory said she enjoys being on stage.
“It’s humbling to be chosen,” Gregory said. “It’s kind of crazy that we get to be in New York at the parade on television in front of lots and lots of people.”
Harper said this opportunity is a big honor.
“I like to perform and show people what I’ve been working on,” Harper said. “I never thought I would be going to New York to dance. It’s a big honor to represent my hometown to the whole country and show people who we are and what we can do.”
Goar said she enjoys watching dance competitions on YouTube and attending local recitals.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “You never think a small town like this would be able to represent in such a big way.”
Williams said she has been watching older dancers since she was a little girl.
“It makes me feel amazing when I dance,” Williams said. “I never thought I would be picked for something like this.”
Carter, who has been dancing almost all her life said she just always loved to dance.
“It feels amazing to be picked,” Carter said. “I was shocked when I found out. Not a lot of people know where Picayune is. It’s going to be fun and I’m excited to see New York.”
For more information about the 5K Run / Walk, contact Michelle Williams at 601-273-6737.
For more information about the group’s fundraising efforts contact Cuevas at 601-273-6737 or Audrey Spiers at 601-916-5984.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox