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Stafford dancer leaps at Tokyo Disney offer
By CATHY DYSON
After 10 months of performing on a cruise ship, Katie Beale was looking forward to working on solid ground.
And she will be.
The only problem is that it’s almost 7,000 miles from her Stafford County home.
The 22-year-old will spend 15 months in Japan, singing and dancing at the Tokyo Disney Resort.
Starting in March, for five days a week, five times a day, she’ll play the parts of Snow White, Cinderella or the evil queen—or all of the above.
Like other cast members of the variety show that depicts the evolution of Walt Disney’s dream, she’s not sure which character she’ll play when.
But she’ll be ready.
“There will be quick changes in between numbers, just, as of right now, we don’t know exactly which numbers we will be in and when they are within the show,” she said in an email.
SEALED WITH A TIARA
Beale started taking dance lessons when she was 3. Soon thereafter came her first performance memory, a ballet routine in which she wore a pink sequined tiara.
The accessory sealed the deal. From that moment, it was clear her focus would be on dancing.
“I mean, there are no other sports that you can get away with wearing a sequined tiara,” she said.
‘ENTERTAINER AT HEART’
Beale studied tap, lyrical dance and jazz from her toddler years to her late teens. She worked with a singing coach. She was 9 when she competed in a Paula Abdul Company Dance competition and earned a silver medal—and a big hug—from the well-known dancer and composer.
She later took her talents to Riverside Center Dinner Theater in Stafford, where she performed in children’s shows before she took the main stage.
Beale graduated from Mountain View High School in 2008. Then she earned degrees in dance and theater—and a minor in business management—from Old Dominion University in three years instead of the usual four.
The fall after graduation, she started her 10-month gig with Holland America cruise line, dancing and singing as she floated around the Caribbean.
Sharing a room “the size of a closet” with another cast member wasn’t so great, but she savored the moments in the spotlight.
“I am an entertainer at heart; I love everything about being up on that stage in the lights, doing what I love to do and seeing peoples’ expressions and how it affects them,” she said.
She returned home to Stafford, where she’s the only child of Perry and Debbie Beale. (Perry Beale is a driver for The Free Lance–Star.)
She started searching for her next job and heard about an audition in New York City for Tokyo Disney. She said she was the only woman selected for the cast from that location.
BROADENING HER HORIZONS
Beale leaves today for Tokyo and will spend a month rehearsing with other cast members from the United States, Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand and Japan.
She is anxious about being away from home so long. But just as she did with the cruise job, she’s focusing on the good that will come from it.
“I can’t help but think what an experience this is going to be, and I am going to be able to look back and say, ‘I did that,’” Beale said.
‘THE SPARKLE IN HER EYE’
Beale’s ability to make the best of things—and her determination—impress her former ballet teacher, Julie Drennan.
She remembers a talented high-school dancer who wanted to be the best at everything she did—but also got everything she wanted.
“She’s not that little diva who once came into my ballet class,” Drennan said. “She’s matured into a young woman who’s realized she has to go out and work for it.”
She’s done just that, Drennan said, by putting herself through an audition process that is nothing short of grueling. She’s had to discover there are times when her abilities and years of training mean nothing because she simply doesn’t have “the look” directors wanted.
“She wanted to become a professional and she did, and that doesn’t happen very often,” said Sandra Childress, who taught Beale at Dance and Gym Expressions in Stafford from the time the dancer was 4.
Childress predicted in 1999 that Beale had what it takes to make a career, that she was a natural in so many ways.
“She never stops dancing, she just loves it,” her former teacher said, “and you can see the sparkle in her eye.”
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425