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Harlem Kids Will Strut in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

By Dartunorro Clark | November 22, 2016 5:11pm
 Kids from NDI rehearse in front of Macy's in Herald Square.
Kids from NDI rehearse in front of Macy's in Herald Square.
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DNAinfo/Dartunorro Clark

HARLEM — There will be a taste of Harlem marching down Sixth Avenue in this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

About 140 youngsters from Harlem’s National Dance Institute will twist and shout down the parade route to a mishmash of hip-hop, swing and jazz in a rousing routine that pays homage to their neighborhood.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for everyone because we’re going to be on television, performing for everyone in the United States,” said 12-year-old Jonathan Rosario, a seventh-grader at P.S. 123 in Harlem.

NDI is an arts education nonprofit, located at 217 W. 147th St., that does in-school music and dance programs in 41 schools around the city.

They also select the most high-spirited students from schools, like Rosario, to join its scholarship program to perfect their craft and perform all over the city.

Rosario, who joined the program in third grade, is part of the Celebration Team at the organization that will perform in the parade.   

The last time the organization performed in the parade was 2007. But it's the first time for all of this year's kids. 

This year’s curriculum was the history of Harlem and kids learned about the neighborhood’s famous jazz legends, such as Duke Ellington and the Harlem Hellfighters, an African-American unit that served in World War I. 

Bianca Johnson, who choreographed the parade routine, said she wanted to create an exciting time for the kids and create a routine that showcased Harlem through dance and music by “fusing old and traditional music with modern.”

Eighth-grader Kyra Delacruz, a 13-year-old at The Special Music School, said she was nervous about performing, but her experience in the program has encouraged her.

“It’s nerve wracking because you know this is a parade that’s been going on for 90 years and you have to own up to the experience,” she said.

“But you don’t have to worry about technique, you just have fun. It’s helpful.”