MUSCATINE, Iowa–Since she could walk, Stella DeLong has danced. The daughter of River City All-Stars’ founder, Stella has danced for most of her life and joined the competition team at age four. Now a junior in high school, Stella dances both with the All-Stars and on the Muscatine High School poms team. She has always enjoyed dance and the opportunities it has given her to meet others with similar interests. “Since I grew up in our studio, I’ve gotten to know a lot of the people there and at other studios and I really like it,” she reflected. A talented performer, Stella shared her passion and artistry with her largest audience yet, as she danced in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Over the summer, members of the poms team attended the MA dance camp, where they learned routines and combinations for many styles of dance. At the end of the camp, leaders gave performers various ribbons denoting their strengths. Among the ribbons she got, Stella received a white ribbon, which signaled her acceptance into the Spirit of America Dance Stars group, which will bring together more that 600 teenaged dancers from all across the country in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “I was so excited,” Stella shared: “It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was little. My family always watches the parade.”
After receiving a video of the choreography she performed, Stella practiced for weeks to perfect the routine. The Saturday before Thanksgiving, Stella and her parents traveled to New York so she could participate in daily rehearsals, where all of the performers could work on formations and transitions together. “It’s kind of a jazz dance to ‘Run, Run Rudolph,” Stella explained. “It’s fast, but it’s fun.”
Her six day visit to the city also included sight seeing with the other dancers, attending a performance of “MJ the Musical” on Broadway, and going to a performance of the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular, which Stella especially looked forward to. Along with the group activities, Stella also had time to tour the city and shop just with her family.
Outside of competition dance, Stella enjoys teaching younger students. She currently choreographs for River City All-Stars competition team for four through seven-year-olds as well as several solos and teaches a recreational dance class for very young students and finds it fun. After graduating from Muscatine High School, she would like to continue working with children and stay connected to dance. “My hopes are to go to school in elementary education and keep teaching dance and maybe open my own studio and follow in the footsteps of my mom.”