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Dawson Family Competes on Disney Dance Show

Two “fams” dance their hearts out. One “fam” wins $10,000 and the Fam Jam trophy. Tune in to the Disney Channel on Nov 23 at 7 pm (rescheduled from Nov 6) as the Dawsons of Rocky Hill take on the Reynoso Fam of the Bronx.


By Barbara A. Preston


Disney flew a Rocky Hill family to Burbank, California earlier this year for a week to compete in an original Disney series episode titled “Fam Jam.” Miles and Mary Dawson, who are students at Montgomery’s Lower Middle School, will appear with their father, Rocky Hill Borough Councilman Billy Dawson, in Disney’s Fam Jam on November 23 at 7 pm on the Disney Channel.


The Dawson Family — Mary, Billy, and Miles — dancing before a live audience in Los Angeles for the Disney Fam Jam program. (Disney Channel/Eric McCandless)

Fam Jam is a new family dance competition series. Each episode features two families competing in three rounds of dance battles for the “Disney Fam Jam” trophy and a $10,000 cash prize. The Dawsons dance to “Can’t Hold Us,” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Disney Choreographer Phil Wright coaches the Dawson and Reynoso families as they get ready to bust some moves with their hip-hop routines and compete for the prize. Trevor Tordjman and Ariel Martin host and help pump up the crowd.


Miles, a sixth grader, is a dancer. He studies hip hop at Complexity Dance Center in Hillsborough. He also takes break dancing classes at Across the Floor in Woodbridge. He also is a member of The Mighty Geese, a competitive breakdancing team associated with his Woodbridge studio that has beaten rival crews from Manhattan and across the tristate region. He is not so much into ballet, although his father studied ballet and worked as a professional dancer when he was younger. Miles likes breakdancing best. “I like it because there is a lot of freedom to it,” he says. “You don’t have to do strict routines.”


Mary, a fifth grader at Montgomery’s Lower Middle School, has never danced, and says she prefers to play flag football or to do Tae kwon do. Her “fam” though, needed a third participant, so her father and brother “recruited” her. “When they told me I would have to be the third person, I cried because I was so nervous,” Mary says. Disney Publicity Manager Vanessa Volek, who was born and raised in the competitive dance world, reassured Mary that the purpose “Fam Jam” is to “have fun.” “We don’t want the families to take it too seriously,” Volek says. “We want to show that anyone can dance — boy, girl, different ages, different experience levels. We want to bring families together, and provide encouragement and positivity.”


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Mary’s favorite part of being in the show were the costumes. “They had a cow suit!” Mary exclaimed. “I wore a pink, short sleeved, vest with puffy sleeves, a lot of sequins, a tiny top hat on a headband, and, my hair was curled and I had jewels glued onto my face. I felt like I was being pampered! I had four people working on me!” Mary has no plans to take any dance classes in the near future though. She still prefers football. “If I actually play two more seasons, I will break the record for most seasons played by a girl,” she says. Mary also does horseback riding. She trains at Mizzitraining on Millstone River Road in Hillsborough, and competes on an Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) team.


During the show, Choreographer Wright will take the audience behind the scenes as he gets to know the Dawsons and how dance plays a part in their lives. The families will learn choreography from Wright and master their special moves during the rehearsal of their big stage performance. The competing families will meet in front of the studio audience on the “Disney Fam Jam” stage. Wright travels the world bringing families and students together to provide encouragement and positivity in each dance class. Wright has worked with some of today’s top artists including Lil Nas X, Will Smith, MC Hammer, TLC, and G-Eazy ft. Cardi B.


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