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Young dancers entertaining on cruise
Dance Cheer Stars Tori Vasquez performs a practice routine. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

The Dance Stars are going to “rock the boat.”

On Monday a team of more than 20 dancers from the Manteca Dance and Cheer Stars studio will embark on a four-day Carnival cruise from Long Beach to Ensenada, Mexico.

And they’ll be part of the ship’s entertainment register – performing for the thousands taking a short jaunt on one of the West Coast’s most popular routes.

Just 10 years after her studio was asked to first perform on a cruise ship, Dance and Cheer Stars owner Harmony Rebeiro will be escorting a group of the best and brightest of her dancers – an all-star assembly of her Manteca and Lodi studios – to get real-world experience that’s unrivaled and possibly eye-opening at the same time.

“We compete all the time against the same teams so the opportunity to do something like this is different and shows that there are lots of opportunities out there to pursue dance,” said Rebeiro – noting that the group would be foregoing a trip to nationals this year to participate. “We’ve had dancers make it in the NFL the NBA and even Disney but so far none have gone the cruise ship route.

“They’ll get the opportunity to learn from the dancers that are there and I think it will be a very rewarding experience for them.”

For one of Rebeiro’s dancers – a 16-year-old Sierra High junior Tori Vasquez – this will be the second time performing while at sea.

When Vasquez was only 6-years-old she was invited to participate on a Royal Caribbean cruise to Ensenada, and said she remembers having to be taken under the wings of older dancers to perform the costume changes and preparation required of a one-hour, continuous show.

Now she’ll be the older dancer that gets to take care of the “little ones” – a role that she said she is happy to play.

“You get a chance to be an influence on the little ones and it’s great because I know how much that benefitted me when I was that age,” Vasquez said. “You get a chance to watch them grow and mature all while you yourself are still getting better. I know that this trip was one of the more memorable experiences I’ve had and getting to be a part of it with the younger dancers as a mentor will make this trip even more memorable.”

And the logistics of performing at sea will present their own unique set of circumstances for a seasoned professional instructor like Rebeiro.

On one hand there are 23 different numbers that will be incorporated into the hour-long running performance – including as many as five costume changes for some of the dancers. That means getting things ironed out as much as possible before departing and making sure that everybody knows their places and their times so as to not hold up the audience or impede the performance.

There are no do-overs on a trip like this.

“Before if somebody wasn’t ready I could just hold up the music,” Rebeiro said. “You can’t do that this time around. Everything is going to be running and we’ve had to practice the costume changes and making sure that the show never stops.

“This is a real performance for these girls, and I think that they’ll do great.”