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Little dancers get their big break in 'Oz'

Danielle Cuzdey's World of Dance students could hardly contain their excitement.

They had read that Proctors in Schenectady was hosting the national tour of The Wizard of Oz, and it was looking for local kids to play Munchkins. The girls told Cuzdey's mom, who was at the front desk at the World of Dance in Colonie, that they would love to try out.

Cuzdey thought it was a great idea. She figured that it would be fun for the girls to have their first audition experience with their friends.

"I said, 'Oh my goodness, let's do it,'" she said.

The tour, which kicked off in October in Florida, was looking for 12 kids from an existing dance, choir or theater group. They had to be between 8 and 13 years old and not taller than 5 feet.

Cuzdey rounded up a dozen dancers who fit the bill, and they headed for Proctors on Nov. 22. There were more than 70 other kids there, so Cuzdey and her students didn't get their hopes up.

"We went into it not expecting anything," Cuzdey said.

But when the auditions were over, the national tour Munchkin coordinator announced the students from the World of Dance were selected to play the Munchkins. They'll share the stage with professional actors at Proctors Friday to Sunday, Dec. 26 to 28.

Cuzdey wasn't the only one surprised that the girls landed this opportunity. Caroline Kindlon of Guilderland, whose daughter, Amy, will be in the show, said she never imagined Amy would have the chance to be part of a national production right here in the Capital District.

"I thought things like this only happened in New York City or California," Kindlon said.

Kindlon's daughter has been dancing since she was 4. Kindlon describes it as a "passion of hers." Amy has been in some dance competitions, which Kindlon reasoned probably helped her battle butterflies during the tryout.

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