By Warwick Valley Central School District Superintendent Dr. David Leach
Gianna Sganga hopes everyone has a “happy place,” that one place that makes them feel really great, a place that’s fun and filled with all the things that bring them joy.
For Gianna, a fourth grader at Park Avenue Elementary School, that place is on a stage – and when she is on a stage, there’s a very good chance that she is dancing.
Gianna has been dancing a lot lately. As Genie in the Park Avenue Elementary School Drama Club’s upcoming musical production of Aladdin Kids she has one of the lead roles, several song and dance routines, and a big tap dancing solo. Preparing for the performance is hard work, she said, but there’s almost nothing else she’d rather do.
“I think of the stage as a fun place to be,” says Gianna. “I’ve been dancing almost my entire life, and every time I do it I’m in my happy place.” But she concedes that it wasn’t always easy for her to perform in front of a theater full of people.
“The first few times I had solos I got scared,” she said. “But I just keep doing it and the scared feeling goes away. Then it’s just fun.”
The trick to chasing the fear away, she said, is lots of work and lots of practice. If you know your part, then you don’t have to worry about forgetting a line or dance move, she said, and with each performance she becomes more confident. Last year she was a giraffe in the Drama Club’s production of The Lion King, and though the part was small, she proved herself a talented and reliable member of the company. When it came time to audition for Aladdin Kids, she set her sites on Genie, prepared for the audition, and nailed it.
Park Avenue Principal Sandra Wood said Gianna’s commitment to her responsibility as a lead in the school musical makes her a role model. Dozens of other students rely on her to learn her lines and know her dance routines, and it’s important that she attend the many after school rehearsals.
“She’s a wonderful student, a talented performer, a good kid, and a good citizen,” said Ms. Wood. “I can’t wait to see her in Aladdin, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.”
Gianna isn’t sure what career she’ll pursue, but she knows it will most certainly involve dancing.
“I’d like to be a Rockette and maybe one day own my own dance studio,” she said. “I know I will always love to dance.”
The Park Avenue Elementary School Drama Club will present Aladdin Kids on Fri., Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. and on Sat., Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. at the Park Avenue Theater. Tickets are $6 and are available at the door. To reserve tickets, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Each week, Warwick Valley Central School District Superintendent Dr. David Leach shines the “The Superintendent’s Spotlight” on one of Warwick Valley’s amazing students. “Superintendent’s Spotlight” features students who reach goals, face challenges, and are role models to their peers.