We had the pleasure of speaking with one of newest clients, Kimberly, about her experience planning and fundraising for a Disney dance tour. In addition to teaching seventh-grade language arts, Kimberly leads an after-school dance team and is constantly looking for new ways to inspire her students.
Can you share a bit about your dance troupe?
I created our after-school dance team about six years ago because our school did not offer an after-school program of the kind. We perform at school assemblies, football and basketball games, community festivals and events, and our end-of-year recital. Our team this year has about 25 dancers, all in between fifth and eighth grade.
Has your dance troupe traveled before? What motivated you to plan a Disney performance tour with Brightspark?
A Disney dance tour has been something I’ve wanted to do for awhile. I have been an avid Disney-goer for a very long time and I’ve seen the groups performing on the stage.
This is the first year I have had kids stick with the team for four years, and I knew they were the group that I wanted to make this happen for.
Your group is smaller than most other Brightspark groups, but you’ve managed to rework your trip accordingly. How did you do this?
Making the trip happen financially has been our greatest challenge. In addition to fundraising, I worked very closely with my tour consultant JoAnn to cut our budget where needed. Our trip will be four days long, and we won’t be getting Park Hopper tickets or anything unnecessary.
What kind of fundraising efforts did you engage in?
The majority of the trip is being funded through fundraisers. We had a car wash, hot dog sale, beach party, Halloween party, and our biggest fundraiser is a puzzle that we created and are selling. This puzzle will bring in $10,000. It is a photograph of Mount Monadnock, which is a local landmark. The production cost was covered through ad sales, which are on the side and bottom of the box.
The dancers are also so excited about it and are working extremely hard to bring in the money. I’ve even had dancers hold yard sales to help their parents pay for their portion of the trip.
How have you communicated with parents and dancers throughout the planning process?
I send a lot of emails! I contact parents approximately two to three times a week about upcoming fundraisers, payment deadlines and performances. I have also had two parent meetings already and will have a third one planned for next week. I speak to the dancers at practice each week and we have gone through all of the details of what the trip will entail.
What were some other obstacles you ran into? How did you overcome them?
The biggest obstacle I encountered was families being on the fence about going. I had one student pull out, and I’ve had others who said they would register but never did. I would advise other teachers to have your parent meetings as early as possible and to set a commitment deadline. Once you know who is going, the fun planning can start happening and you can really just enjoy the process.
What advice would you give to teachers or dance directors who are planning their first tour?
Give yourself time! It’s hard to determine how many people are going, and that dictates the cost of the trip and the amount needed for fundraising. In the future I would probably push the trip to be later in the year so that we had more time to do our fundraising.
I’ll also probably reach out to the incoming grades before the end of the school year so that parents can take the summer to think about it, instead of only having a week or two in September.
What parts of your tour are you and your troupe most looking forward to?
I’m most excited to see our team perform on the Disney stage. Most of the dancers on the team have never danced at a studio, so their performing experiences on a professional stage are limited.