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The Ulster dance stars who aim to dazzle Disneyland

By Ashleigh Wallace

Five young dancers from north Belfast have been chosen to represent Northern Ireland at an international festival being held in Disneyland next spring.

The youngsters, whose ages range from seven to 14, are all members of the Dance Starz school based in Ballysillan.

The girls travelled to Dublin last weekend to audition for a place in the Dance Excellence 2008 event being held in Los Angeles next March.

And earlier this week, their delighted dance teacher Michelle Fitzgerald received an email saying all five of her students had been picked to represent Ulster in the All-Ireland team.

Lara Braiden (7), Alexandra Beattie (8), Emma Smyth (11), Elisha McAuley (12) and Megan Doak (14) will travel to America to take part in the week-long project. While in Disneyland, they will join children from around the globe for dance, vocal and musical theatre workshops.

All participants will be trained in a number of styles - including ballet and freestyle disco - by professionals.

Each country will then perform a piece, while two dancers from each country will be chosen to perform on an international stage during the event's grand finale.

Teacher Michelle Fitzgerald said: "When I got the email telling me the girls were going to Disneyland, I was immensely proud of them.

"The girls will have to learn new dancing styles like ballet and we'll be travelling down to Dublin twice a month to learn choreography with the rest of the Irish team."

Each participant has to pay 1,450 euro to take part in Dance Excellence 2008 in addition to their airfare - meaning it will cost around £2,800 for a dancer and their parent.

The school will be spending from now until next March raising funds.

Parents plan to hold a series of fundraising events and have also appealed to local business to donate funds.

Anyone who would like to make a donation towards the costs is asked to contact Michelle on 079 1775 3247.

Belfast Telegraph


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