Dancers representing Duluth's Dreamdance Academy will lead off the iconic Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City on Thursday with a "jazzy-danceline" performance to a mashup of Christmas-themed music.
After performing in Duluth's Christmas City of the North Parade last Friday, 10 of the academy's dancers boarded a shuttle bus at 2 a.m. to go catch a flight from Minneapolis to New York.
"They get off the high of dancing here, and then they go," said Peter Myre, owner of the dance studio.
Spirit of America Productions asked cheerleaders and dancers from more than 35 states and Puerto Rico to perform in the 89th annual parade. Participants must be between 14 and 18 years old.
The choreography was distributed to each participating organization about a month prior to the parade. Every dancer is expected to have the dance memorized ahead of their arrival - though they were expecting some changes once they arrived in New York.
"Normally the whole thing is changed once we get there. We learn from two dancers, but we perform with 700 dancers," said dancer Abby Lonne. This year will be the second time dancing in the Macy's parade for Lonne and fellow Proctor senior Michelle Ware.
Despite the long, crowded practices, the dancers will get to sightsee with their chaperones. A bus tour and a harbor cruise that passes by the Statue of Liberty were among the outings in which they were set to participate.
"I'm excited for sightseeing. I've never been to New York so I really want to see the Statue of Liberty," Payton Brown, 15, of South Range, said last week.
Come Thursday, dancers will be outfitted in elf-like costumes, ready to march the 2½-mile parade route. The dancers will fly back to Minnesota on Friday.
"I'm a little bit nervous, but our long practices prepare us for Thanksgiving Day. There's still pressure since it's a live performance," Lonne said.