Yesterday I shared some awesome pictures of my friend, Jana, who works as a dancer at Disneyland. After weeks of playing email tag I finally got a chance to interview Jana about what it's like to work with the iconic Happiest Place on Earth.
Dancing Branflake: What's your rehearsal schedule like with Disney?
Jana, The Most Awesome Person Ever: When we're starting or re-opening a parade, we'll do about a month of rehearsals--usually 4 hours a day, 2-3 times a week or more depending on how many parts we do. Then we start full cast street rehearsals with 4-8 hour overnight rehearsals, sometimes until 4am because it has to be after the park closes. Those are pretty cool though because we're in the park all by ourselves, dancing on an empty street. Then the parade opens and we perform 1 or 2 parades daily!
DB: What's the best part about your job
Jana: Being at Disneyland! I have always loved Disneyland so getting to dance there is a dream come true for me, cheesy as it is. Seeing kids faces light up really is magical.
DB: What's the hardest part?
Jana: Probably having to do it day in and day out, no matter what. During the Christmas season I was doing 5 performances a day, 5 days a week! Some days I felt really lucky and happy to be performing so much, but some days I was just pooped. Also--we dance in 2-inch character heels on cement streets. Dumb. I'm scared for the future of my body.
DB: Are there days you really don't feel like smiling?
Jana: YES. But we have to suck it up and give a good show! It's true for all dancers, but what makes it easier for Disney dancers is we have an excited crowd who paid a lot to see some Disney magic, and you can't help but respond to that. When you look for the special moments it makes it easy to smile. :)
DB: What has been your most favorite character?
Jana: My favorite Disney character is Dopey! But my favorite character I've danced I think was my first spot--I was a wind up doll, "Bell Ringer," dancing with the Pinocchio float in the Parade of Dreams. It was like being a part of a classic Disney movie, and that was a beautiful parade, it had that fantasy-come-to-life aspect. Also I loved being the "Music Box Ballerina" en pointe in the Christmas parade a couple times last year...it was my dream spot. I know you feel the same, Tiffany--ballet just holds a special place in our hearts!
DB: What are the perks of working at Disneyland?
Jana: Well, free admission is one thing! It’s especially good for people who love everything Disney like my husband and I do. We're geeks. But really the biggest perks are the special stories of dreams coming true! Like everywhere, it has its drama, but has its heartwarming stories as well. For example, one day there was a beautiful young man, who I believe had cerebral palsy, watching the parade. He had the biggest smile and was cheering as we pulled up, and his parents were so excited with him. When it was time to invite the audience to do the conga on the street with us, his wheelchair didn't hold him back. His father picked him up and carried him along the conga line the whole way. The boy was absolutely overjoyed, high-fiving Woody, Mickey, Minnie, and everyone as he passed. I'll never forget it.
DB: Anything else you want to share?
Jana: Just that I think you are awesome! And your blog is awesome! You share wonderful little tid-bits that give us a peek into your life and make people happy! I love it! And you are so wonderful to blog about dance and fellow dancers--you progress the art in your own way. :)
Thanks Jana! Isn't she awesome and so kind? You can't even have a conversation with her without leaving feeling great about yourself and about life in general. Very much like a Disney movie, right? I'm going to Disneyland in May and I can't wait to see her.