Three generations of dancers to take part in dance festival

Three generations of Connecticut dancers, some 300 enthusiasts in all, fly to Florida later this month to take part in Dance the World, one of the nation’s largest dance festivals, held every year at Disney World.

Ranging in age from toddlers to teens, 77 current students from the Academy of Music and Dance, with studios in Southington and Wallingford, will swing dance to the tunes of Benny Goodman on Disney World’s stages and receive instruction from dance pros, while the older teens will parade through the Magic Kingdom on the weekend of June 29. They will be accompanied by more than 200 parents and grandparents, many of whom once waltzed and fox-trotted themselves at the same 57-year-old Connecticut institution.

“My mother used to run the Academy, and many of my students’ parents and grandparents remember taking lessons with her,” said the school’s director, Courtney Billings, in a release.

This year, Billings has awarded a dance scholarship in memory of her grandmother, Mimi, to the two children of a local father who is battling a brain tumor. Mimi, otherwise known as Marion Fucci, sewed costumes and played piano in the studio that her daughter started at age 17. Billings represents the third generation of the family-owned Academy and is thrilled at the idea of three generations of students celebrating the kids’ achievements at such a magical venue.

“This is an once-in-a-lifetime thing for these grandparents to join their grandkids in Disney World and watch them perform on the greatest stage in the country. It’s amazing for them to be able to share this moment,” she said.

Billings said she is looking forward to a week of camaraderie with some 8,000 other dancers from across the country, without the pressure of competition. “It’s difficult to find a public stage where there is no competitive element, so Dance the World represents a rare opportunity for us in that regard,” she said.

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