Spending your 18th birthday in London with your mom and best friend seems like a perfect way to kick off 2014.
Prairie High School senior Cierra Silva will be performing in the annual New Year's Day Parade through London's West End with other dancers from around the United States, including three of her friends.
Dancers must be awarded All-American status from Universal Dance Association to earn the honor of going to London. Prairie High School students participated in a summer dance camp put on by the Universal Dance Association.
"You have to be able to learn the dance quickly, in three days, with a bunch of leaps and pirouettes," Silva said. But it's not just technical skill that matters. "They look for individuality. It also depends on whether they think you're ready, to be sent out to London and performing in front of the world."
The parade features more than 10,000 performers from more than 20 countries, along with floats, marching bands and representatives from the London's 32 boroughs, making it the biggest event of its kind.
Of the seven Prairie students that competed in the camp, only Silva, Devyn Mortenson, Molly Wilson and Kiley Enger earned the All-American title and that trip to London. "Devyn, my best friend, Molly and Kiley, who are also lifelong dancers," Silva said.
Silva actually earned her first All-American status her junior year, but held off on going to London until she was a senior. "I just wanted to save (the trip) for my 18th birthday," she said.
"I've been practicing daily so I don't get cut," she said, with the choreography for the jazz number being sent to participants on DVD to learn before heading to the United Kingdom, with only one brief practice all together before the parade.
"I probably won't be nervous until I get there," she said, having competed in dance competitions, drill team and even the Hazel Dell Parade.
"I really want to ride the London Eye, and just go touring," Silva said. And thanks to her food science classes, she also is looking forward to sampling some of London's "weird food." Even if "it's a lot more bland than ours," she said.
"It's a huge experience for me, especially to be with my mom."
"I started dancing when I was 3 years old," she said. "I hope to go on to the University of Arizona, with their dance program. I definitely want to go professional." She's always had the goal of appearing in Times Square for New Year's Eve Bash, but New Year's Day in London makes that dream seem a step closer.
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