The Northern Westchester Examiner

Mahopac Dancer from Epic Performs in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

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Mahopac Middle School student and Epic Dance Center Competitive dancer, Sofia Gristina, could not believe that a single audition in August would lead her to the 2017 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but there she was on nationwide TV Thursday.

Gristina, 12, learned about the audition through an email sent this past summer from Epic Dance Center owner, Sue Solazzo. She and her mom headed out to Long Island and figured she would be home by lunchtime. After a two-hour hip hop audition, Gristina was chosen by world famous choreographers Willdabeast Adams and Janelle Ginestra to join the performance group “34th and Phunk.” Only 60 dancers in total made the cut out of over 400 hopefuls. The experience got “real” right away.

After being chosen, there was a meet and greet and autograph session, and soon she was being measured for the parade costume, split into groups and had to stay into the evening for the first rehearsal. What followed over the next few months were rehearsals in both Manhattan and New Jersey at the Icon Dance Complex with assistant choreographer, Geo Hubela.

“Even though these rehearsals were long and tiring, they prepared us for the performance and we all had a great time doing it,” Gristina said.

It all culminated when Gristina performed in front of Macys on 34th Street and made her television debut in the Parade on Thanksgiving Day.

After the parade, Gristina said she felt lucky to be a part of the first ever hip hop performance in the parade, adding, “everyone had gotten to be such good friends.” Some dancers would fly in for the practices from Dallas, Florida and LA. “It was definitely an experience I will never forget,” she said.

Solazzo said being on the Epic Hip Hop Team and Dance Company and dancing competitively have prepared Gristina for these experiences. Her teammates and teachers were cheering her on and were so proud of her.

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