For families with kids who love the performing arts, a trip to Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts is awe inspiring. There are endless opportunities to see performances on the grandest stages but elementary through college ages can also have a chance to perform in the spotlight in front of thousands of guests at Disney Parks through Disney Performing Arts.
About Disney Performing Arts
Like the Disney Youth Education Series, Disney Performing Arts falls under the Disney Youth Programs umbrella and serves as a way students can hone their craft with programs for instrumental, vocal, dance, and theater ensembles through performance and workshop opportunities with entertainment professionals. Students may lead a Disney parade down Main Street at Magic Kingdom, record their own vocal selection of a beloved Disney film, gain a greater understanding about the audition and casting process from a Disney show director, or participate in a competition festival like the annual Festival Disney vocal or instrumental competition.
Inside Disney Performing Arts Disney Dancin’ Workshop
While there are many Disney Performing Arts programs, my almost 12 year old son and I were invited to sit in on a Disney Dancin’ Performing Arts Workshop during our visit to Walt Disney World with Disney Youth Programs. This 2 ½ hour program allows middle school through college ages to experience the life of a professional dancer through an experience that includes a simulated audition led by a professional Disney dancer and finishes with an on-stage performance.
We arrived mid-morning to Saratoga Springs where dancers had been rehearsing with Lindsey Smith, a professional dancer and performer at Walt Disney World, since 7 am. Their experience began with the warmups, an introduction to establish comfort, and mock auditions that led to them being “hired” to learn choreography from Moana which is commonly performed at Epcot’s Tokyo. (Note: Dancers learned choreography for Disney songs but would not be performing at Disney Parks as part of this workshop.)
When we came in, the girls were practicing choreography to the second song they were learning that morning. They had been rehearsing different routines to explore different choreography styles and for routines that would culminate in a finale performance that included all elements learned.
What Participants Can Learn from Disney Performing Artist Pros
During water breaks between songs, Lindsey Smith, sat down with the girls to answer their questions, share industry insights, and her experience as a Disney Cast Member. Lindsey told the girls that she performed for Beauty and the Beast. Rehearsals to learn choreography for the show occurred over two half days where she learned two different parts in the show that had a total of 14 dancers.
Lindsey shared that Disney performances are always rehearsed when the park is closed so this means waiting until all park guests have exited before taking the stages. Many times this means lining up at Midnight for rehearsal and getting on stage at 1 am, after park guests have exited after Extra Magic Hours end. Often times there is a week of overnight rehearsals where they conclude at 6 am, right before the park opens for morning guests.
Beauty and the Beast is a 25 minute show performed five times a day. Lindsey shared that the costumes weigh 15 pounds each and because you’re performing in all kinds of weather, she cited the importance of taking care of your body. She recommended hydrating and advised girls to fuel their bodies with what it needs, choosing a drink like Gatorade for electrolytes instead of soda.
Other things that participants learn from professionals during dance workshops include how to:
- Prepare for an audition. Not only are there tips on choosing the proper attire for an audition, but Lindsey recommended making sure you bring healthy snacks for the day because often times auditions can be an all-day process.
- Stand out from the crowd. Tips for creating an effective resume and getting the best possible pictures for headshots are shared.
- Use the experience to open doors to new opportunities. Bringing the right attitude and being versatile are important! Lindsey told her workshop participants that if they’re auditioning for a tap role, it’s a good idea to bring ballet shoes just in case. She said that it’s important to come prepared for your audition, especially if you’re asked to show your versatility and not being prepared can be the difference between having a chance at a part or being sent home.
In addition to rehearsal time and have a professional cast member to answer questions, Disney Performing Arts participants also get a certificate indicating they’ve completed a nationally recognized workshop, video of the final performance, and a CD of the music to take with them to continue their rehearsals at home.
Disney Performing Arts Workshops fulfill many of the National Core Arts Standards for creation, performing, responding and connecting. You can review the standards explored through this experience.
How to Participate in Disney Performing Arts
Since Disney Performing Arts began in 1955, more than 70,000 groups and over 5 million students from every state in America and six different continents have participated in Disney Performing Arts experiences. Instrumental, vocal, and dance groups around the world audition for Disney entertainment professionals throughout the year to for the opportunity perform at Disney parks.
Participating schools are selected from applications and audition tapes reviewed by world-class judges who evaluate and select schools for the opportunity to participate in a Disney Performing Arts program. Once selected, they’re given the opportunity to perform in front of international audiences at Disney theme parks and resort guests. Performing groups range from elementary school to college level and these groups get to sing, dance, and play their way through once in a lifetime performances.
At Disney, students become part of the show for the biggest live entertainment employer in the world. For more information, visit the Disney Performing Arts website where you can learn more about:
- Performing opportunities
- Competitions and festivals
- Workshops like Dancin’ Disney mentioned above and also ones geared towards acting, dance auditions, musical theater, dance techniques, singing, improvisational acting, instrumental music, entertainment technology, jazz, music, puppetry, choir, soundtracks, and more! There are tons of opportunities for kids of all ages!
You can also learn more about Disney Youth Programs at DisneyYouth.com and these Disney Youth Programs links:
- Disney Youth Programs Facebook page
- Disney Youth Programs on LinkedIn
- Sign up for their e-newsletter
I was invited to Walt Disney World as a guest of Disney Youth Programs who paid for my travel, accommodations, and provided additional items as part of my experience. I personally paid my son’s plane fare so he could join me. All opinions are my own and based on personal experience. No additional compensation was received.