Friday, November 21, 2003

Dancers practice for big parade

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

[IMAGE] Crystal Graham (left) and Sara Schmalz
(Provided photo)
WEST CHESTER TWP. - Sara Schmalz figures she has six days to learn her dance routine before she gets really nervous.

The Lakota West High School senior is one of two members of the school's dance team who will perform Thursday in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Sara and teammate Crystal Graham were asked to join a group sponsored by the Universal Dance Association after attending a camp the Texas-based organization put on at Ohio State University.

UDA, which features more than 800 of the nation's top high school cheerleaders and dancers, is making its 18th trip to New York to participate in the parade.

"I am really excited but I'm not too nervous yet,'' said Sara, 18, of Liberty Township.

What: 77th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
When: 9 a.m.-noon Thursday.
Where: Channel 5 (NBC).
Sara and Crystal will join three other Southwest Ohio groups that will strut their stuff Thursday before national cameras on Herald Square:

• The Oak Hills High School Varsity Singers will join America Sings to open the 77th annual parade.

• For the second time in three years the Kings Firecrackers jump rope team - made up of elementary and junior school students - will perform.

• The Miami University Marching Band will perform.

This will be Sara's second time performing before a national crowd. Two years ago she was a backup dancer to Take 5 in the Citrus Bowl.

Crystal said she is already nervous but admits she has put much of the pressure on herself. The dance routine they were given to learn earlier this month is different than any Crystal has done before.

"It's a cross between cheerleading and dancing. It's not what I'm used to. I'm not a cheerleader,'' said Crystal, 17, of West Chester Township.

Both girls say they have been practicing feverishly and will continue to do so until they leave.


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