Imagine what it would be like to be invited to participate in the 93rd Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Trumansburg High School junior Elisabeth Lewis is going to have that opportunity. She is one of 22 local high school dance students from the Armstrong School of Dance and the only dancer from Trumansburg who will have the honor of performing in front of Macy’s and on NBC and via live streaming. The dancers have been invited by the Spirit of America Dance Stars to perform in the Nov. 28 parade.
Lewis has been taking dance lessons at the Armstrong School of Dance since she was 5 years old and has had instruction in jazz, ballet, tap, lyrical, and precision dance. She and the other dancers will be performing a jazz dance to Christmas music in the parade. Lewis is the daughter of Hope and Aaron Lewis of Trumansburg.
In 2008, the Spirit of America Dance Stars saw a video that was submitted by Armstrong School of Dance’s director Karen Armstrong Gorsky and they were invited to participate in that year’s parade. Once a group is invited, they continue to receive invitations to perform in the Thanksgiving Day parade. About every 3 years, a dance group is chosen from the Armstrong School of Dance to travel to New York City to perform. This is the fifth time that Armstrong has participated in the parade over the course of 12 years. Dancers must be in high school to qualify and, besides Trumansburg, this year’s dancers attend schools in Ithaca, Newfield, Lansing, Moravia, and Spencer.
On Nov. 23, Lewis and her fellow dancers will travel by Cornell bus to Manhattan where they will immediately participate in a six-hour rehearsal. The 22 students from Armstrong have been practicing the routine for about a month, but will finally join the 478 other dancers from top dance schools around the country for the daily six-hour rehearsals and the performance. The dancers will work with nationally known choreographers.
Lewis is excited because she and the other students will be living at the Hilton during her stay. The Armstrong dancers, 21 girls and 1 boy, have plans to see the Broadway show “Frozen” and the Rockettes’ Christmas Show, as well as visit the Empire State Building and, maybe, the Statue of Liberty. “I will feel like a tourist with a lot of rehearsing in between,” Lewis said.
Lewis’ family, Hope, Aaron, and sister Allison, will arrive in NYC on Nov. 27 to watch her and the other dancers. It is thought that the group of 500 dancers will perform just before Santa arrives near the end of the parade. The parade route is 2.6 miles long and the dancers will walk the whole way, performing once somewhere from 11 a.m. to noon at Herald Square in front of Macy’s and for the TV audience. It is estimated that more than 3.6 million people will watch from the streets of Manhattan and there will be more than 50 million viewers worldwide. The dance itself is about three minutes long but may not be broadcast in its entirety.
Lewis’ outfit resembles that of an elf’s. The bustle skirt is green tulle with sequins and is worn around and behind a red and green tunic with a high neck and decorated with large sequins and white fur cuffs. The costume is completed with tan tights and tan jazz shoes, which are rather flat instead of having heels.
After the parade, Lewis has been told by previous performers that she will be very tired and should go back to her hotel room to shower and take a nap before meeting her family for dinner. After dinner, there will be a party for the dancers and chaperones sponsored by the Spirit of America Dance Stars. Lewis and her fellow dancers will return home the next day.
“I am very excited and grateful to the Armstrong School of Dance for this opportunity. I am also grateful to my parents for letting me go,” Lewis said with a smile. “I am excited, grateful, and…nervous because there will be so many people watching me, and I will be in the city for a whole week by myself.”