Brownsville Porter’s Emile Perez to dance in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

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Porter Early College High School’s Emile Perez will dance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. (Courtesy photo)

When Porter Early College High School’s Emile Perez dances in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday, she and her family will have made good on their promise to her grandmother that they would do whatever it took to get her there.

“It was like OK we have this much time to make $4,000 and we’re already pretty busy people, we have something going on all the time and so finding time to work on school, work on extra-curriculars and fund raise was chaotic,” Perez said last week in the Porter library.

Then she added, “After we paid everything off, then it became exciting because now it’s like OK I’m going to New York, but then it’s like New York is a lot colder than Brownsville. I have to buy a bunch of clothes to keep me warm up there.”

Perez and her dance teacher Caty Wantland flew to New York ahead of time. Her parents are meeting them there.

Porter Early College High School’s Emile Perez will dance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. (Courtesy photo)

Perez’s journey to the big nationally televised parade started years ago but became real back in March when the Porter Belles and Bows earned a supreme award in a Spirit of America dance competition in McAllen, which automatically qualified them to dance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Among the Belles and Bows, only Perez is making the trip.

“We’re excited because Emile is the first in our family to branch out like that with her dancing. For her to have been chosen to go and dance in New York is something very big for our family,” Perez’s mom Lucy Perez, an 18-year special education teacher at Porter, said.

“My mom, who was Emile’s biggest fan, she passed away in March but she got to know, we told her that Emile had been chosen to go to New York, so before my mom passed away she told me, ‘promise me that you’re gonna get her there,’ so we promised my mom and so that’s why my husband started doing brisket plates and my sisters started helping out and the cousins. And we were like we’ve got to get this girl over there somehow some way ‘cause we made that promise to grandma Gracie Moreno, so that’s why she’s going. We did it,” Lucy Perez said.

The two of them couldn’t say exactly how many brisket plates Emile’s dad Joe Perez, the journalism and yearbook teacher at Porter, had turned out to reach the goal but agreed it had to be a high number considering the family was selling and delivering 60 plates a week all across Brownsville.

Porter Early College High School’s Emile Perez will dance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. (Courtesy photo)

Perez said she started dancing when she was 2, primarily ballet, and later branched out into tap and lyrical and hip hop in middle school.

“My sophomore year was when I joined Belles and Bows. That was when I really blossomed into a performer,” she said.

“I used to be a really shy person and I kind of still am, but I feel like when I get on the stage I can really be myself. It sounds cliche, everybody says that, but it’s really true. Performing gives me a lot of confidence and then I have my amazing director, Ms. Caty Wantland,” she said, admitting that dance had brought out the best in her.

“Definitely. I wasn’t really confident before, I was kind of shy and insecure and I didn’t feel like I had the right to own who I am, but then joining the team really taught me to be myself, like I have the right to be myself. I don’t have to be in the corner. I don’t have to be quiet. I can be myself,” she said.

“In the parade its a jazz routine it’s very high energy so I hope everybody tunes in to NBC to see it because it’s a really pumped up routine,” she said.