Big Apple, here they come
A trip to New York City for Alex Bates and Aubrey Eriksen included dancing, shopping and two Broadway musicals but being there together was the best aspect of the whole expedition.
Alex, 13 and Aubrey, 15, both Prescott residents, earned the July trip as part of an All Star Kids distinction they received at a November Kids Artistic Revue dance competition in Phoenix.
Competition judges select All Star Kids in whom they see unique or special potential. About 150 dancers, ages eight to 18, participated in the weeklong trip to the Big Apple, where they took dance classes, hung out with a Radio City Rockette, watched musicals, shopped and went sightseeing.
Both girls compete with The Dance Studio's RhythMotion Senior Company in Prescott.
During an interview Monday, Aubrey said the best things about the trip included "being with Alex, definitely, and dancing."
And Alex said she most enjoyed "being with Aubrey and seeing all the things and meeting all the people."
The first night in New York, Aubrey's flight was late but Alex went to a dinner at Planet Hollywood, where she met some of the other All Star Kids.
The next day, both girls went on a sightseeing trip, which included the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and Ground Zero.
"We saw all the shopping," Aubrey added, "which was good."
They saw the South Street Sea Port and the Brooklyn Bridge, too.
For Aubrey, Ground Zero provided the neatest experience of the day.
"When it happened," she said of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, "I was in fifth grade, so I didn't really understand."
Of this trip, she said, "When I saw it, I understood. It was really big. I could just kind of feel what everyone else was feeling, the devastation, the hurt. All the emotions were there."
Alex said she liked seeing the Empire State Building and it was bigger than she'd imagined.
"Then we went to Chinatown looking at fake purses," Alex said, adding that Aubrey bought one.
The next day, they met with a Radio City Rockette, who taught them a class, gave them a mock audition and took them on a tour of the Radio City Music Hall.
"It was really cool meeting a Rockette," Alex said, explaining that she learned how tall the Rockettes have to be and that they rehearse and perform only during the winter.
"They taught us a class and we learned two of the dances they perform," she said.
Aubrey said she'd like to be a Rockette, so she enjoyed hearing about the ins and outs of the job, as well as the history of the famous dancers.
During the next two days, the girls took a tap class and a lyrical class at the Broadway Dance Center and, musical theater, jazz and hip hop classes at the Steps on Broadway dance studio.
Alex said the style of dance was different in New York than it is in Arizona.
"There aren't as many tricks," she said, "like leaps and kicks and stuff."
"It's a lot of personality stuff," Aubrey added.
On the final evening, the girls and their mothers and grandmothers, who'd accompanied them donned formal dresses and went to the Tavern on the Green for dinner and a dance party.
Before that, though, they had what Aubrey called "a cute little cocktail party" in her hotel room. It comprised crackers, cheese and punch. A limo ride followed and then the dinner and dance party, at which the girls received plaques denoting their All Star status.
Aubrey's mother Bryn Stotler and Alex's mother Leslie France said they and the girls' grandmothers, Carol Eriksen and Barbara Lusch, had a great time.
"It was the experience of a lifetime," Stotler said, and France said, "The grandmas ate it up."
The girls had a great time, too.
Aubrey said, "It's probably the funnest thing I've ever done in my life."
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