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Maureen McMullen, Published November 24 2013

Local teens to perform in Macy’s holiday parade

FARGO - Gillian Dahl, 15, and Claudia Schuster, 16, never expected to dance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

But this year, Dahl and Schuster will join Spirit of America, the parade’s official dance and cheer team, to perform in Macy’s 87th annual parade.

They will be the only competitors from North Dakota this year.

Dahl said they were notified of their acceptance in May, after she and Schuster submitted a video of a dance they performed together last year with Gasper’s School of Dance in Fargo.

“It was a kind of a relief to know I was going,” said Dahl, a sophomore at Fargo Davies High School. “It was so exciting, and I was so happy for the rest of the day.”

Schuster is a junior at Fargo South.

On Saturday, Dahl and Schuster joined 650 other Spirit of America dancers in New York to perfect the final details of the parade-day performance.

“I’m thinking that it’s an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ theme,” said Dahl. “It’s jazz; it’s really peppy, and it should get everyone excited.”

Matt Gasper, dance instructor at Gasper’s School of Dance, said their “dedication to the art form and their love and passion for dance” make Schuster and Dahl the perfect candidates for Spirit of America’s dance team.

“They deserve it; they worked really hard to get there,” Gasper said.

To Schuster, who’s been in dance since kindergarten, the hard work she puts into dancing is a reward in itself.

“Dance taught me to try my best and be happy with whatever I end up doing, and to be glad I get to do it,” she said.

Schuster’s mother, Marcy Schuster, noticed the positive impact competing in dance has had on her daughter.

“It’s made her more organized and able to get her studies done,” Marcy Schuster said. “It’s also made her very loyal and dedicated. She’s super dedicated to her dance team.”

Along with perfecting the routine and performing it in the annual parade, Dahl and Schuster will have time for sightseeing.

“There’s an itinerary for when we get there,” said Schuster. “So, we’re going to a Broadway play and the Statue of Liberty and stuff like that.”

Spirit of America will also take its performers to the Empire State Building and a Radio City Music Hall performance featuring The Rockettes.

Their families will join them in New York closer to the date of the parade.

“I’m kind of nervous to go,” Schuster said. “I’ve never been to New York before.”

Both are thrilled by the opportunity.

“I’m just hoping that everything goes well and that I have a really good time with Claudia and the other girls we meet,” said Dahl. “It’s going to be such a fun experience that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Maureen McMullen at (701) 235-7311