The Executive Director of the Dizzy Feet Foundation greeted us in the lobby when we arrived at the Omni in downtown LA. The incredible Music Center is a block away - all steel and glass and intimidating performance venues. Tomorrow, we have our tech rehearsal - Hayley, Melissa, Claire and I are nervous but determined to "fake it til we make it" through a rehearsal in one of the most renowned venues in the world.
All of this excitement is great - it was thrilling to have WAAY TV come to the airport to film our departure and interview the kids; it was amazing to see so many friends in last night's audience and to receive such a rousing ovation from them; it was great to get here and be reunited with Ashley Dinges, our former Executive Director who flew out from New York and Leah Huebner, our former Officer Manager who is making it big in Hollywood. But as it usually does when I'm with the amazing young people who are part of Project UP, I witnessed something profound last night that really puts the excitement in perspective.
Zach Hulgan has been the male dancer in "Change the World" since it was choreographed a year ago. He has performed in Atlanta, Birmingham and at Merrimack Hall, rehearsing for hours over the past year to perfect the piece. He's been so excited about going to LA, talking about flying on the airplane to go Hollywood and change the world. Unfortunately, things didn't turn out the way they were
supposed to. Zach's dad had emergency open-heart surgery on Monday and the Hulgan family needed to be together while their dad is in the hospital. Even though he couldn't travel with us, Zach continued to attend rehearsals, dancing better than he ever has before. We selected Connor Furber, a recent graduate of Dance Your Dreams! and new member of Project UP to dance Zach's part. Connor stepped in without missing a beat, learned the choreography in an hour and happily shared the rehearsal time with Zach each day.
|Zach at the Evening of Dance|
Last night, we performed "Change the World" two times so that each boy could have a turn to dance. Zach went first and did an incredible job. When Connor stepped onstage for his turn, Zach stepped to the side, into the wings. As the music started, he called out, "You can do it, Connor! Way to go." No matter how disappointed he was, no matter how much Zach wished he was making the trip, he stood in the wings, clapped loudly and proudly for his teammate, thinking not of himself, but of Connor. What a wonderful example of good sportsmanship and professionalism.