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Emirati-inspired routines by the Dream It Possible team will take the stage at DisneyLand Paris on March 17 Image Credit: Ahmad Alotbi/Gulf News

Dubai: The Special Olympics UAE on Wednesday sent 19 athletes to the International Festival of Dance and Performing Arts (IFDPA) in Paris. In a first, 12 people of determination students are part of the 19-member team who are representing UAE at IFDPA.

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The team is heading to Disneyland Paris alongside two coaches and Maryam Al Ali, Special Olympics UAE’s Head of Delegation.

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Dream It Possible team in Dubai Image Credit: Ahmad Alotbi/Gulf News

The students - trained under British expat Vicky Lovering, who is also the founder of Dream It Possible Ballet and Performing Arts - plan to showcase 11 routines including street jazz and musical theatre, among others.

“DanceSport became a recognised sport during the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, and its popularity has soared among our athletes since then. It is a great work out that is fun and entertaining. We are delighted at the invitation to be part of the 16th [IFDPA], and everyone is looking forward to showing our Emirati inspired routines on this phenomenal stage at the heart of DisneyLand Paris,” said Maryam.

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The team during a practice session in Dubai ahead of their departure for Paris Image Credit: Ahmad Alotbi/Gulf News

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Performance on global stage

The students will perform alongside seven mainstream dancers at Disneyland Paris on March 17. But before this, the unified team of 19 members representing the UAE team will compete with other teams from around the world on March 15 and 16. The final show of dance and their performance will be on March 17.

“The students are between the age group of six and 28 years. It’s an absolute honour for us to represent UAE in the global event,” said Lovering, who has trained the students.

“It’s a historic moment of achievement... as it will be the first time a unified team from the UAE participates in such an esteemed international event. Students will have the opportunity to compete with schools from around the globe, participate in the pre-parade around the iconic park and castle, and showcase their talents on their own stage show, proudly waving the UAE flag.”

She added: “Being partnered with the Special Olympics UAE, we have lots of exciting things in the pipeline for the global event. Thanks to the time spent practicing and rehearsing, the students have all bonded together and formed long lasting friendships.”

Selection process

Lovering explained: “We sent out two audition tapes. One has been accepted into the pre-parade that goes around the Disney Park and the iconic Disney castle in Paris. Our second audition tape for a showcase performance also has been accepted. This means that our students are super lucky to have the time of their lives giving a 20-minute stage show inside the Disney Park in Paris. They will showcase their talent in front of a wide range of public that visit the iconic location in Paris.”

Students, parents worked hard

Lovering said students and parents both have dedicated their time and efforts towards training and performance. “Parents dedicated their weekends to pick and drop their children for practice. While the students themselves have been so dedicated since October 2023 when we started practice for this mega global event. We are all grateful and super proud of how we have come so far.”

She added: “We are hoping we will come back with a trophy to our home soil here in the UAE.”