The Kids from Wisconsin have come full circle since she was a KID herself in 1987.
Now in her fourth year back with KIDS, Peggy wears multiple hats in helping to build the organization and what the KFW bring to communities.
Q: Peggy, once a KID always a KID pretty much held true for you. Tell us about your experience in 1987 as a Kid from Wisconsin.
Looking back now I realize how life changing it was. I was on the fence if I would pursue performing as a career. And after that summer it was clear this was my path.
The confidence you build while performing and the knowledge you gain being part of the show that literally starts from scratch is incomparable. It was also learning unique skill sets; adjusting to different stages, working closely with your fellow performers on and off stage, assigned responsibilities, great or small is relied on by the entire organization. This has translated to every show in my career ....and most aspects in everyday life.
Q: Do you feel the experience of being a KID has changed much since 1987?
Not much at all, for many reasons. First, the KFW organization has not veered from its intended path and mission. Also, the special threads of tradition are passed down every summer from returning KIDS, adoring fans and alumni.
Lastly, we hear feedback from Alumni of what attributes about being a KID were key to their current successes.
Q: Tell us a favorite KIDS memory
A: I believe I share this with many KIDS Alum, but nothing compares to performing at your hometown show. I remember thinking this is where the hard work and training pays off. When you hear the cheers, and receive all that support, how can it not inspire or change you? To this day, Manitowoc and its Noon Rotary Club have provided a KFW show every summer, and I am proud to be on the long list of talented "Manty" hometown KIDS! Again, that memory still makes my heart pound and the fact that the show was held on my 18th Birthday!
Q: Tell us a little bit about
your professional career.
Even though my training was tracked for a Chicago or New York dance company, I took a turn toward auditioning for revue-type productions. I wanted opportunities where I could perform daily and be tangled in shows that were fresh and innovative. At 19 I was hired at Disney World and went on to perform at venues in Las Vegas, Japan, Italy, So Korea, many contracts on cruise ships and numerous shows, commercials and teaching opportunities in Chicago. I believe I just naturally fell into choreography. Once I experienced the creative side of a stage, and I could help someone's talent shine, I was hooked.
With having these opportunities of performing different dance styles, varieties of productions, and under the influence of amazing choreographers and directors, I believe I just naturally fell into choreography.
Q: We heard you won a few distinguished awards in the past couple years. Please tell us about them.
I recently was honored with a "Tommy" Award for choreography for Burlington High School's Musical Theater Program from the Overture Center of the Performing Arts in Madison.
The Tommy Program
, similar to KFW, gives a wonderful opportunity for talented youth to shine, build self-confidence and reaffirm their aspirations.
For me this recognition affirms that I am true to my goals of always preparing and challenging students.
It also helps me appreciate the colleagues I surround myself with, like at BHS, Overture and KFW. My colleagues are inspirational in their approaches of lifting students up to be part of something bigger than themselves and to reach beyond their own expectations.
Q: As the Outreach Coordinator for Kids from Wisconsin, what do you feel is the most important aspect of why the KFW should continue providing these workshops?
A: In the short 3 years of its existence, the "Realize Your Dream" program is already seeing the many benefits it offers participants. The outreach workshops were a guiding force in creating the NEW KFW mission statement that supports an outward focus in helping build even stronger relationships in the communities we perform. Just like any program that the KFW provides, our hope is that "Realize Your Dream" will help youth understand that what is in your heart is obtainable with hard work and dedication.
Outreach workshop in Stevens Point - 2016
Q: As the 2017 Choreographer, what can our audiences look forward to in 2017?
A: Without giving too much away, I think audiences should get ready for a real treat! The show concept is fresh. It will set the tone for future productions by our new Producer, Taras Nahirniak. The show will continue to satisfy our oldest and newest fans. It will be an engaging, seamless and memorable experience of famed music from across the USA. It will be sure to "Get Your Motor Runnin" while you "Head Out on the Highway" with the KIDS!
Q: What is the one thing about being the choreographer for KFW that excites you the most?
If I must pick one I would say the camp and rehearsal process. The transformation that happens to the troupe, the team they become and how they define the development of the production that over 100,000 people will see, is awe-inspiring.
As a choreographer, it is a dream to be given a chance to work with this caliber of talent, drive and focus. It is a personal honor, especially respecting the KIDS staff that were here before me, to continue the tradition of giving a "true to form" pre-professional experience to our youth. I guess it IS a story of coming full circle.