When Disneyland opened in 1955, a triumphant marching band commemorated the event by parading down “Main Street, USA.” Thirty years later, Disney’s Magic Music Days was established to continue that tradition by inviting not only marching bands but young performers of all genres to share their art with a Disney audience. Bands, orchestras, choirs and dance groups flocked to participate in the program, giving daily performances at Disney parks worldwide. And this year, Disney has changed the title of “Magic Music Days” to “Disney Performing Arts OnStage,” a transition inspired by the hundreds of dance groups that participate each year.
Performing students, ages 7 to 18, typically spend three or four days at the park. They put on one show, and then they can relax and enjoy the Disney entertainment or take a number of workshops. “A group can have as much programming or as little programming as they want,” says Tim Hill, director of Disney Youth Programs. Available dance workshops include performance labs focusing on improvisation, master classes with Disney choreographers and mock auditions for a role in the Disney cast of characters.
Prospective studios or schools apply online and then send a recent performance video and photograph of the costumes they plan to wear. “We make sure that the group is well-choreographed, that they are entertaining for a broad audience and that everything meets the Disney standard,” says Hill. “When a dance studio director brings a group here, they’re giving their kids the opportunity to perform on the professional stages that our folks dance on.”
Another change this year is the addition of the Ears for the Arts pin, a keepsake to help all those who’ve performed remember their time with Mickey and friends. “My very first exposure to any Disney park was when I was a sophomore in my high school band, and we marched in the parade at Walt Disney World. It’s something that I remember to this day,” says Hill. “The pin represents belonging to an elite group. Those who wear it can be proud of an experience that not many people get to have.” Info: www.disneyyouth.com/performing-arts-onstage
(Photo courtesy of Disney)