She knows she can dance….A local performer dances her way onto the Disney channel.
Audessa Parafina began taking dance classes at an Airdrie studio when she was eight and she’s never stopped.
The 18-year-old does not take time off in the summer as other do, opting during past break to drive to Vancouver to take extra classes at prestigious Harbour Dance Centre. She will return there in the fall to attend an intensive year-long program and dance with a semi-professional company.
“Dance is her one true passion,” said mother Tiffany Parafina. “She was dancing two hours a day at (Edge School) then up to another 30-plus hours a week and for years she also danced in a studio on top of that. Even in the summer when she finally gets a break she takes extra classes for aerial work which she has performed in two different Stampede grandstand shows.”
For now, Audessa is taking her passion and is working diligently to turn it into a career, and there’s already good reason to believe that will happen. She landed a part in the dance finale of a Disney Channel movie, Descendants, which debuted July 31. It was produced by Kenny Ortega, the man responsible for the successful High School Musical series.
The part was the result of an online video audition that Audessa submitted to the Disney team, which turned into an in-person test that so impressed Ortega that he asked the Airdrie dancer to stick around Vancouver an extra week to audition for an acting part, even though she had no acting experience.
“We rehearsed for a couple of hours a day for two weeks, then we went to Victoria to shoot for a week-and-a-half,” Audessa explains. “I’m part of the dance scene you see at the finale of the movie, the big final scene.”
The Disney appearance was not Audessa’s first time on the small screen. At the age of 15 she won a role in a national McDonald’s commercial. A Mcdonald’s employee at the time, she again submitted a video audition to producers, who called her to Toronto to try out. In the commercial, Audessa and the other dancers performed a routine in which they all built the perfect sandwich.
“The whole shoot was truly amazing,” says her mother. “She met great friends and worked with one of the nicest choreographers in the business, Luther Brown (a judge on So You Think You Can Dance Canada).”
Audessa has also been part of the Young Canadians grandstand show at the Stampede for the past six years, putting her in front of several thousand spectators each night.
“(The Young Canadians) was a great experience,” the recent Edge School graduate said. “It a great place to learn stage presence because the Stampede is such a big audience. It’s a real great place to train.”
The plan now is to move to Vancouver, study dance and acting and keep working toward a career that allows her to pursue her passion. In late July, Audessa and her family made the trip to the West Coast where she successfully auditioned for The Source Dance Company, which is run out of the Harbour Dance Centre.
The success comes as no surprise to her first Airdrie dance teacher, Mandy Yip, who operated the Star Baton and Dance Company, where Audessa first studied starting at the age of eight. (Yip sold that studio and it now operates under a different name.)
“Audessa’s extremely talented and she’s a very hard-working kid and always has been,” said Yip. “Plus, she’s naturally beautiful and all of those things together makes her a very employable dancer.”