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Disney characters wow tykes at Ballet Long Island tea party
Chloe Norman, of Sayville, celebrated her fourth birthday Saturday in royal fashion at a tea party with princesses at Ballet Long Island in Ronkonkoma.
Chloe, along with her friends -- Katelyn DuMoulin and Emerson Acerno, both 3 and of Sayville -- were dressed in full princess regalia for the tea party and ballet performance. The nonprofit school puts on the show once a month throughout the year and weekly during the summer, featuring dancers dressed as Disney characters from favorites like "Cinderella," "Snow White," "Sleeping Beauty," and "The Little Mermaid."
Debra Punzi, the school’s artistic director and founder, said the tea parties help to fund the school’s scholarships.
“The scholarships help students study dance seriously and pays for professional dance teachers to come and teach classes,” Punzi said. “They’re mostly to take classes here or underwrite a student going to Joffrey or another ballet school.”
The performances have a mix of professional dancers and apprentice teenagers, Punzi said.
Nora Goodman, 19, was an apprentice and is now a professional dancer with the company.
“Ever since I was a little girl I knew I wanted to dance and I came here when I was 11,” Goodman said. “What I thought I wanted to do is real now . . . it’s a little bit stressful and there’s more responsibility.”
Her sister, Sarah Goodman, 17, an apprentice, has been with the school for nine years and performed as Belle of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” during the show.
“I’ve been to other dance schools, but this one is my favorite,” she said. “We’re all really close and we always try and do what’s best for everyone. And I love seeing the kids’ faces.”
After the half-hour performance and photos with the princesses, the guests moved into the tea party room for cupcakes, cookies, iced tea and juice.
Ariel Gardner, 28, of Brentwood, wasn’t familiar with the school until he saw an ad in the paper for the event. He decided to make the trip with his daughter, Amani Gardner, 3, who takes ballet and tap dancing at a school in Bay Shore.
“I said, ‘Let’s have a tea party,’” Gardner said. “Just Daddy and Amani.”