From Obama to Miley

January 20, 2009

Hey Dance Spirit readers! I’m here in Washington, D.C., where the parties are done and a new president is in charge. I’ve been here for five days writing about and, yes, participating in the festivities. As I type this now, I’m waiting to board the bus that will take me and my crew home.

Before I go further, let me tell you about that “crew.” I traveled here with Mount St. Mary Academy, a Catholic girls high school located near Buffalo, New York. My daughter is a freshman and I’m a teacher there. The school’s marching band and dance team performed at an inaugural ball, among other events, during the last five days in Washington.

Our group has close to 160 people who soaked up a lot of excitement here. But I’d bet anything that five of the girls would tell you the highlight of their trip came on Monday night. Their story has a whole lot to do with dance, which is fitting because all five are members of the school’s dance team.

Here’s the scoop:

On Monday morning a pair of girls named Sarah and Lauren, who are both my students, came to me and said – almost begged, “Do you have any connections for tickets to the Kids’ Inaugural Ball?” This was a huge concert taking place at D.C.’s Verizon Center and featuring the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Bow Wow and Demi Lovato.

“I’ll try,” I said, but I wasn’t hopeful. And after an attempt or two I couldn’t help out – I knew no one who had tickets.

I did, however, have a contact from the Miley camp: dancer Mandy Jiroux, her best friend and second half of the YouTube hit “Miley & Mandy Show.”

I texted Mandy to see if she was performing with Miley that night. She wrote back: “Yes, I am : )”

Mandy and I agreed to connect by phone after her part in the show was done. I wrote about her in the September issue of DS and have been periodically following up on her projects, the chief of which is a singing and dance group called The Beach Girlz.

I told Sarah and Lauren that they could probably join me for the phone call with Mandy. They asked if their friends Erika, Emily, and Julia could join in. I said sure; they seemed happy. But not happy enough. They worked out an entire plan to get from our hotel in Maryland to downtown D.C. and back – a plan that included a shuttle van, subway, and taxi. We had no tickets, but the girls weren’t deterred. They talked Sarah’s mom and me into accompanying them — and so we did. To my surprise, within minutes after we walked out of the subway downtown, they obtained seven tickets, some of which were as close as six rows from the stage. The girls rocked it out through all the acts, a few even getting face time on the Disney broadcast.

Mandy and I connected by phone during the show, right after her part was over. She told me what a charge it was to perform there, with Mrs. Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha watching along with the vice president’s wife and grandchildren.

“It was the thrill of a lifetime!” she gushed — and this was after a long, tiring day that had started at 8 a.m. (Mandy and fellow dancers Jen Talarico, Myke Dizon and Cory Graves learned the whole show that day.)

I asked Mandy if we could meet up with her late that night. She said yes, so after the show we hailed a cab to the hotel where she would catch a couple hours of sleep before flying back to Los Angeles the next morning.

The girls hung out with Mandy and Jen in the lobby, chatting and shooting photos. For these five dancers it was an unexpected treat that capped off an unexpected night … and it shows that inaugural memories can be made in the most unlikely of ways.