How does an elementary school chorus make performing at Disney a reality for the students?
Great kids and lots of practice! On February 26, 2020, the Eastvalley Eagle Chorus gave an outstanding performance at Disney World on the Disney Springs Main Stage.
The Eastvalley Eagle Chorus is an extra-curricular auditioned group of 3rd, 4th, and 5thgraders from Eastvalley Elementary School. They are directed by Dr. Anthony Bernard, Janet Steinheimer, Kaylin Brown, and Parker York. With frequent performances, the Eastvalley chorus students must learn a varied repertoire of music ranging from art songs through Broadway musicals and show choir music. They accomplish this feat with only one after-school rehearsal per week.
In the Winter of 2019, Dr. Bernard asked his principal, Kendall Foster, for permission to conduct a needs assessment to determine interest in a Disney performance. The chorus parents were enthusiastic about the idea, so the next step was to create and submit an audition video to Disney Performing Arts. The application package was submitted in the spring and after a couple of months waiting in anticipation, the chorus received their acceptance in July! The students and staff were so excited! Not many elementary schools get this kind of opportunity.
When the students returned to school after the summer break, they began learning new music for their upcoming Disney show choir performance as well as learning new art songs and preparing to perform the Disney Kids musical Frozen. Notably, the chorus student section leaders help select the repertoire for the Eastvalley chorus each year!
After months of hard work, all the arrangements were made, the music was ready for performance, and the kids were packed and ready for the experience of a lifetime. Dr. Bernard, his co-directors, and Principal Foster traveled on a charter bus with 30 students and nine chaperones to Orlando. Their first night, the students were treated to a professional dinner theater show which inspired them to perform beyond their young years. The next morning, the kids arose early for breakfast and one last practice at the hotel. Hotel guests were delighted to watch the rehearsal and commented that the kids were so skillful and well behaved. One guest from Minnesota gushed that she enjoyed the Eastvalley kids more than the professional performance she had seen the previous day!
After rehearsal, the chorus traveled a few minutes to Disney Springs to await the performance. The students and directors went backstage for a final sound check and met several Disney Performing Arts “cast members.” Everyone was ready for this Disney Youth Programs performance! The Eastvalley students formed a processional to the stage and found an audience of hundreds eagerly awaiting their noon performance.
The students were filled with excitement as their accompaniment music played through the sound system. Right on cue, the kids made their entrance singing and dancing like the pros they had seen the night before! They took their performance to a new level, spurred on by the enthusiastic crowd. Every note, every rhythm, every step of choreography seemed magical on that Disney stage. Memories were being made that would last a lifetime!
The students left the stage after a standing ovation, practically floating all the way to the backstage area. The Disney Performing Arts guides told the students that they truly performed as well as some high school choruses. The cast member in charge complimented the kids, expressing that they went above and beyond the average performance. He made the kids feel that they were the most important people on the property.
This performance trip was an enormous opportunity for growth as musicians and as young people. The kids learned that hard work and practice can bring about superior results. The Eastvalley Eagle Chorus returned home with more confidence, greater skill, and a lifetime of happy memories.
Dr. Joseph Woodruff, Supervisor
Performing Arts – Choral Music, Dance and Theatre