Brockway, PA – Brockway sophomore Sydney Manno got the chance to prove that living in a small town does not have to be a handicap when it comes to achieving your dreams.

Manno wants to be a professional dancer.  She has been dancing locally at School of Dance in St. Marys, Van Dyke Ballet in Punxsutawney, and Dancer Studio in Clarion.

She has been competing since seventh grade all across the state.

Her hard work gave her the chance to go to GatherNYC, a summer intensive program that boasts 11 hours a day of training, and that gave her an even more exciting opportunity.

Manno got to go to the Today Show and be a backup dancer for Hugh Jackman as he sang songs from The Greatest Showman and Les Miserables.

Manno was a backup dancer for the Les Miserables portion of the performance.

“He was amazing.  He was such a nice man.  He was everything you’d want him to be.  He was so appreciative of the hard work people were doing for him.  And he always had a smile on his face.”

Only 20 dancers from GatherNYC were chosen.  They had little time to prepare, getting to the Today Show with an hour to learn their moves before Jackman got to the set.  After a run-through, they were ready to go live.

Manno described being on national television and meeting a celebrity as surreal.  She said that it felt like it was not really happening until she got to go home and watch the recording.

The Today Show experience also had the benefit of reuniting Manno with her friends from GatherNYC.  This was a chance that Manno does not know if she will get again.  Talking about the memories, Jackman was first on her list, but her friends were a close second.

“Probably, the people I met there.  Hugh Jackman, obviously, will be remembered forever.  How he spoke to me and getting a picture with him.  I got to see some of my friends from this summer.  We got to dance together again.  When they live across the country, you don’t know when that time will be again.  So being together, dancing together, doing what you love together – that was something that I won’t forget.”

The performance is available on The Today Show website.

Listen to the full interview with Sydney Manno.

Sydney Manno is shown in the front right of this photo.

Manno and Jackman