Hi my name is Jackie and my daughter is Hannah, we were part of the WCDT April 2017 Open Tour to LA.   That meant we were part of a group of dancers and chaperones from other parts of NZ.  We are from Taupo, the others were from Palmerston North, Wellington and Auckland. We had 19 dancers and 7 chaperones in our group.

We were accompanied by Brooke Parsons our mentor choreographer and dance teacher from Palmerston North. We felt very special being part of an open tour, our girls had to learn their dance routines via dropbox, they were responsible for organising the practices and learning the routines themselves. Then Brooke touched based with each group individually in our towns before the tour to run through the routines for Hollywood Boulevard and Disneyland.

We all met for the first time at Auckland airport and got to hang out together and travel on the same flight to LA. Once we got to LA we were met by our gorgeous and friendly tour managers from WCDT, we had the awesome Danielle who made us feel so welcome and looked after us for the rest of our time in LA. The other dance groups had their own tour managers, but all tour managers were there for anyone in the groups who needed advice, ideas, or just to have a laugh.

I was so impressed with the organisation of the whole tour, every evening we received a tour sheet about our next day activities, details, times etc… everything was run so smoothly you always knew what was ahead and could prepare yourself.

For me as a mum and chaperone one of my favourite things from the tour was seeing my daughter dance, sounds like a cliché but it’s true, she loved being at the dance studios with professional choreographers running the workshops. The first day we walked to IDA dance studio and walked up the stairs it was exciting. The girls were so excited about the unknown and what was expected of them. All their expectations were met and more, they loved the classes and the characters who took them. Hannah’s favourite was the twerking class with Cedric, he was so energetic and inspiring not to mention funny. The girls didn’t want his class to end.

Visiting the three dance studios was such a privilege and the girls gave the classes 100%.   They also had the opportunities during these times to practice for their performances on Hollywood Boulevard and at Disneyland, I loved these first few days as it was the first time our open tour had danced together as one group and our girls got on like a house on fire, and Brooke was so professional and patient putting it all together.

My highlight was watching our girls dance on Hollywood Boulevard, they shone dancing outside Madame Tussauds,  in front of the boulevard crowds it was thrilling.   Then to have the opportunity to dance on a Disneyland Stage was awesome. Our girls looked amazing and danced with such pride being from New Zealand and dancing in front of people from all over the world, it made me very emotional being a part of it. Our open tour girls were so professional they danced together like a real team they made us all feel very extremely proud.

Hannah and I also really loved staying at the Magic Castle, not just because of all the free treats, but the location. It was great walking one block down and you were on Hollywood Boulevard, I was so impressed with our girls, they took the whole place in their stride. They loved being in amongst the hustle and bustle that is Hollywood Boulevard. It all added to their LA experience, and what is was like away from their lives in NZ.

The tour was non- stop, dancing, shopping, surprises, laughing, crying, walking, running, travelling, site seeing, Disneyland, Universal studios, everything you wanted it to me and more.  If I was to give any advice it would be to make sure your dancers eat well, drink loads of water, and manage to get some rest if you can get them to keep still long enough.

Every evening I listened to my daughter and her new dance family talk constantly about their day and what they thought about it, and what they were looking forward to the next day etc… not once did I hear a negative conversation. They were thrilled with their dance experiences at the studios, or couldn’t wait for their up and coming performances. The shopping was amazing, or about the characters they had met that day. The whole tour was full of anticipation for the next days of adventure, for us all.

I was so impressed with Kim and her amazing team, none of us knew what to expect really, we had the itinerary etc. to go by, but It was always above and beyond our expectations. This made all those long days fundraising and extra dance classes, etc before the tour worth it.

My daughter Hannah couldn’t get enough of her WCDT experience, she loved every single minute of it. I saw her change in LA, she saw a small glimpse of what other opportunities there are in the dance world. It showed Hannah how hard you have to work, and how dedicated, positive, determined you have to be to be a part of this world.

I was impressed with WCDT and how they showed our girls what they would need to be a part of the dance world overseas. The workshops, seminars, performance opportunities, interviews all an insight into what it would be like. It hasn’t put my daughter off, if anything it has made her more determined to work harder and to strive for her dreams. Hannah is only 14 years old but this tour has made her want to plan ahead and work for her dreams, it was a massive eye opener for her at this age.

She has talked non- stop about her trip since she has been home to anyone and everyone who will listen, she wants to go back asap and her dreams are just that little bit stronger now. I can’t thank Kim Davey and her amazing team enough, for making these opportunities available for our children.   It was definitely a trip of a lifetime. I have also made friends for life from it, and was thrilled to be able to be a part of the tour and to be there with my daughter.

Jackie Melvin, Chaperone

NZ Open Team, April 2017