DeForest dancers selected to perform in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

The dancers join The Morning Show Monday, now exactly one month away from November 24.
DeForest dancers selected to be dancing in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Published: Oct. 24, 2022 at 5:19 AM CDT
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DEFOREST, Wis. (WMTV) -The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is back, and seven DeForest dancers are making the trip to the Big Apple for their national TV debut.

Ultimate Leap Dance Center is sending dancers ages 14 to 18 to New York this November.

A few members in the group earned a spot to perform in the 2020 Macy’s parade, but was derailed when the pandemic struck. This means the anticipation has been building for more than two years now.

The group of seven will arrive in New York on Saturday, Nov. 19th with rehearsal scheduled for that evening. Sunday will mostly consist of rehearsal but in the following days, they will get to sight-see and experience the city. Tuesday through Wednesday they will have dress rehearsals for the parade, then Thursday is the big day!

Faces to watch for come Thanksgiving morning: Kiarah Cystrunk, Addison Otto, Daelyn Midlikowski, Wren Hunter, Brynn Hookham, Eve Hollenberger, and Denali Oler.

Two of the dancers who auditioned and have punched their ticket to New York are just 14 years old.

“It’s really cool to see people’s reaction when I say that [I’m going to be in the parade],” smiled 14-year-old Denali Oler. “They’re so surprised because it doesn’t feel like that big of a deal to me, but then when people talk about it, it makes it a bigger deal and it makes me feel appreciated.”

Brynn Hookham, also 14-years-old, said she’s been getting similar reactions to fellow dancer team member Oler. “They are like jumping up and down, it’s crazy.”

For high school junior Eve Hollenberger, this is a dream come true. “I remember watching the parade when I was younger, and I was like yeah I want to be one of those dancers...that is one of the things I remember doing.”

Jenni Fristed, Co-owner and artistic director of ULDC says the teams’ costumes are set to arrive this coming week with choreography for the parade expected at the beginning of November.

“I think they know it’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I don’t think it will hit most of them until we are getting ready to get on the plane to go,” said Fristed. “Very proud of our students for accomplishing this and that they get the opportunity to have this experience.”

DeForest dancers selected to be dancing in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Dancers Wren Hunter and Kiarah Cystrunk say they never imagined when they started dancing from a young age, they would one day be performing for an audience of millions of people.

“When I started I just started with friends and I knew I liked it but I didn’t know it would come to this,” said Hunter. “I never thought I’d be here.”

The seven dancers are well-versed on a number of dancing styles, but in New York they will be performing a jazz number.

“With jazz especially I can have more attitude, more sass, and that’s just who I am,” laughed Cystrunk. “So it makes me more confident in myself in the dance world...being able to have my own personality.”

Addison Otto and Daelyn Midlikowski both auditioned for the parade and were accepted back in 2020. Unfortunately that fell through at the last minute. Two years later having the opportunity once again in front of them, they say has been surreal.

“Being given the extra opportunity to do this is really special to us,” started Otto. “With costumes and choreography coming this week, I think it’s all just becoming very real.”

“I’m looking forward to the trip in itself and the opportunities that we’re going to get because this is kind of a once-in-a-lifetime thing we get to do,” said Midlikowski.

These dancers and their parents have been working hard for months in fundraising for the trip to New York. If you would like to donate, you may visit the team’s Go Fund Me Page.

DeForest dancers selected to be dancing in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

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