Long hours of hard practice paid off for three local talented young ladies who will be among 18 dancers showing off their skills at the 78th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
Natalie Bram, Emma Gassett and Kaitlyn Smith have devoted approximately eight years of their young lives to dancing. They have been tapping their way into the public eye since the age of two.
Natalie, daughter of Cathy and Drew Bram, is a seventh grader at Oakville Middle School. She has been performing with the Muny Kids since 1999. Her nine roles have included the title role in "Annie," Tootie in "Meet Me In St. Louis," and Gretel in "The Sound of Music." She also appeared in "Annie Get Your Gun" for Stages St. Louis.
Emma, age 10, and the daughter of Gina and Paul Gassett, attends Kennerly Elementary School in the Lindbergh School District. She was a member of the chorus in the Muny production of "Annie," and appeared at Walt Disney World as a finalist in the Radio Disney Talent Search 2004. She also sings with the St. Louis Children's Choir.
Kaitlyn Smith, daughter of Luann and John Smith, is a fifth grader at Bierbaum Elementary School in the Mehlville School District. She has performed at Walt Disney World and sings with the St. Louis Children's Choir.
The girls all study their art at the Professional Dance Center in South County, and devote approximately eight to 10 hours a week to their craft.
They each submitted a videotape to Camp Broadway, an organization dedicated to making live theater accessible to children, educators and families in New York City and across the country.
"We weren't really expecting it," Kaitlyn said. "It was a real surprise."
"We found out two weeks ago, Natalie said. "We learned a dance and sent in the tape."
Tony Parise, artistic director of Camp Broadway, is a former South St. Louisan and a one-time student of Geri Stretz, owner of the Professional Dance Center.
He said the girls demonstrated "talent, poise and spirit.
"I saw video submissions from across the country and had to choose 18 kids to represent Camp Broadway," Parise said. "I also held live auditions in New York and, overall, I saw more than 100 children between the ages of 10 and 12."
Dancers on the float will perform "Walk Like An Egyptian" promoting the new movie, "Tutenstein," appearing on Discovery Kids.