It was one of the best-kept secrets in showbiz, and on Sunday, March 8, up to a dozen dancers from TDA Performing Arts dance studio in Benalla ran on to the MCG to perform alongside international pop star Katy Perry.
As part of Perry’s Women’s Twenty20 World Cup grand final performance, more than 300 junior dancers added a theatrical element to the popstar’s renditions of hit songs Roar and Firework.
Vicki Sherriff of TDA Performing Arts said the opportunity to include a dozen Benalla dancers in the world-class performance came through a friend.
But with most dancers hailing from the city, Sherriff said it was an incredible opportunity to highlight regional dancers.
“We had 19 dancers from the north-east and of that, 12 were from Benalla,” Sherriff said.
“With 386 kids on the MCG, five percent of them were from one country town.”
With the group required to attend five weeks of rehearsals, with sessions reaching up to five hours, Sherriff said preparation for the performance had been tough.
But it was a strict code of silence around the performance that tested everyone the most - and they came through with flying colours.
“We weren’t allowed to tell anyone for months. Kids couldn’t tell their teachers and we weren’t allowed to put anything on social media,” Sherriff said.
“Everyone knew Katy would be at the cricket, but it was having that wow factor of 300-plus kids supporting her.”
And as a bonus, the dancers were rewarded with VIP tickets to a standalone Perry concert.
“Katy was great with the kids, she thanked them and chatted away with them,” Sherriff said.
With the experience of performing in front of 80 000 fans live - plus hundreds of thousands more over broadcast - Sherriff said the experience would not only be with the kids for the rest of their lives but would also make them stronger moving forward.
“They’ve learnt they can push themselves, both physically and mentally. Their resilience is huge,” Sherriff said.
“A lot of them are heading to the US with TDA in a couple of months. There’ll be huge crowds there too, so I have no doubt at all that whatever is thrown at them - heat, weather - they’ll tackle it head-on.”
Sherriff thanked all the parents involved in helping organise and assist the dancers in their rehearsals and final performance.
“They drove their kids to Melbourne and supported a lot of very tired girls who couldn't explain to people why they were so zapped, ” Sherriff said.