How do you show your #DisneySide? Well if you’re aspiring young performers, you head to Disneyland to become a part of the Disney Performing Arts Conservatory. A few months ago, 40 talented singers, dancers, actors and puppeteers came together to work with the best of the best in Disney mentoring as they lived their dreams with the first ever, one week long, intensive performing arts experience.
A program 6 years in the making and part of the long running Disney Youth Programs, the Disney Performing Arts Conservatory allowed each of these 15-19 year old a chance to see their dreams come alive and experience the magic of performing on the Disney stage.
Each day started bright and early with daily training in each of the disciplines, but along with the dancing, singing and acting rehearsals came surprises as only Disney can do.
Day one found the Conservatory participants front and center for “Aladdin the Musical” at the Hyperion Theater in Disney California Adventure Park. After the show, the troupe was whisked away backstage to meet and talk to the performers themselves and feel what it was like to be able to stand on that stage.The Aladdin cast members generously shared their stories and dreams as they recounted what their own road to becoming a Disney performer entailed. Next stop-perfecting your acting chops. How does Disney teach a young actor to “become the character”? By riding Pirates of the Caribbean of course for crash course in method acting. Mix in the excitement of Aladdin with a few hours in the rehearsal studio, and by day’s end, the transformation was apparent.
With only 4 days until performance, Day 2 meant it was time to hit the rehearsal studios with a vengeance and who better to mentor the young performers than Susan Egan, Disney’s very own Meg from “Hercules” and Belle from “Beauty and the Beast”. Susan immediately made each and every member feel as though she had known them all of their lives and knew just what to say to help them work through their nerves. Add in her expertise with that of the casting directors, choreographers and vocal and acting coaches and by the end of the day, the show was well underway. Disney has this magical ability to help each and every person find their true #DisneySide that lies within. Imagine our surprise when Zack, who came into the program based on dance background, emerged at the end of the day clutching an enormous binder and a smile that could light the night sky’s informing us he had just been cast as Sebastian in “Little Mermaid” and he had a solo.
The clues for Day 3 wore a hat and sunscreen. Wednesday found the group on the streets of Disney California Adventure Park once again learning first hand from the Disney performers themselves what the magic of being a part of the Disney Entertainment Division was all about. From Minnie and the Fly Girls to the Newsies to the residents of Buena Vista Street, each of these talented performers graciously made themselves and their stories available to the Conservatory members but more so, gave them the confidence to feel that one day, this could be their own life. The students were treated to an incredible lunch on the Boardwalk before returning to the rehearsal halls for their upcoming Friday performance. Just when you thought that there was no way to top the day before, the mentors did just that with a “field trip” behind the scenes to see the magic of the “Soundsational Parade” The conservatory students were all treated to an up close and personal look at the inner workings of what goes into the making of these twice daily magical moments. They experienced everything from how the floats themselves work to the choreography and puppetry that goes into bringing this thrilling parade to life. Susan Egan also made a surprise return to help with the finishing touches for Friday.
Thursday was also “Parent’s Day” where finally after hearing about the adventures throughout the week, we were allowed backstage to see firsthand each of our children living their dreams. There are absolutely no words anywhere that could ever adequately convey the feelings that overcome you as you enter the Disneyland rehearsal studios.
You immediately feel the history all around you, as you are hit with the knowledge that this was the place where throughout the years, every show, every parade, every performance first got it’s start right here in these hallowed halls. Walking into the rehearsal studio and seeing your son, microphone in hand singing and dancing, seeing the total joy and confidence radiating from within not just Zack, but all of the young performers, coupled with the look of pride on the faces of the parents, as well as the mentors that worked so hard to bring each of these Conservatory members to this point in time is something I will hold in my heart for the rest of my life
Friday was the day that the entire week was all about-Show Day!The day started with a visit to the Hollywood Land Back Lot Stage, the place where it would all take flight that same afternoon. After a morning of diligently putting the finishing touches on staging, the members returned to the rehearsal halls to find Caroline Sunshine, Tinka of Disney’s “Shake It Up” waiting for them to given them that extra little confidence boost before they took to the stage.What does showing your #DisneySide mean? It’s that belief with all your heart that all your dreams can and do come true if you have the courage to pursue them, and Friday afternoon family, friends and Disney Park visitors shared in the dreams of 40 young performers as they took to the stage and realized that magic.
Walt Disney must have had this exact moment in time in mind when he said, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” For the members of the first ever Disney Performing Arts Conservatory, all of their dreams came true one week last July. Thank you Disney Youth Programs for allowing our children to live their dreams.
Want to find out more about the Disney Performing Arts Conservatory or any of the Disney Youth Programs?Then write to us here at Disney Gals or head on over to Disney Youth Programs on the Disney website.
Gayle is an educator, storyteller and lifelong learner with a passion for spontaneous travel. Here you’ll find practical tips and creative hacks with the hope of helping you to create your own extraordinary life experiences - without breaking the bank.