No ordinary routine: WL dancers to perform at Orange Bowl
This past May, when the company WorldStrides contacted Kathleen Van De Veere about an opportunity for her dance studio to perform at the Orange Bowl NCAA football game in Miami, she thought there'd been a mistake.
"I honestly thought it was sort of like a fluke when they called me — I was like, 'Who is this?'" Van De Veere said.
But the opportunity was very real — and it didn't take long for Van De Veere and 13 dancers from Van De Veere Productions to accept the invitation. On Dec. 30, they'll take their places alongside about 500 other dancers as part of a nationally televised halftime show by the singer Andy Grammer.
"We've done really big trips before, but nothing like this," said Van De Veere, whose studio has locations in both West Linn and McMinnville. "I've taken the kids to Paris for a week to dance, I've taken them to an Alaska cruise where we performed on a Carnival cruise ship, and we also performed on a trip to Mexico.
"I've taken them to Honolulu, New York, L.A., but this is the first time we're doing a big, big game."
The Orange Bowl, which this year features a matchup between No. 6 Wisconsin and No. 11 Miami — a happy coincidence, given that Van De Veere originally hails from Wisconsin — will be broadcasted on ESPN and is considered to be one of the premier bowl games in the country. According to Van De Veere, her studio was selected in part because of its experience performing locally at Portland Trail Blazers and Harlem Globetrotters games.
"They kind of scout studios that have a lot of game experience," she said. "They found us online and said 'We think you'll be a good fit for what we're doing.'"
Eleven of the 13 dancers traveling to Miami will be from West Linn, with the other two hailing from McMinnville. The group gathered Wednesday, Dec. 14, at the Sunset Fire Hall to start learning the routine, which was drawn up by the famed choreographer Chris Judd.
"We have to pre-learn it, and then we get down there and they stage it for the field," Van De Veere said. "We will rehearse at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center, and we will also be going to a dance convention and a dinner cruise — all this fun stuff. And we'll also be able to meet dancers from all around the U.S."
Van De Veere Productions, which is in its 18th season, offers both recreational and competition level classes for singers and dancers in a variety of categories. The group traveling to Miami features dancers of a variety of ages and specialties.
"So they really don't dance together at the studio, but they will be dancing (together) at the Orange Bowl," Van De Veere said. "And they're all competition dancers."
If all goes well, Van De Veere hopes that this is just the start of what could be an exciting set of opportunities. WorldStrides, after all, is known for coordinating dance opportunities at several other bowl games as well as at major holiday parades and other events.
"So if they like us and we like them, hopefully we can do some more things with them," Van De Veere said.