Taylor Henderson lands role as Ariel
Ahwatukee Foothills Taylor Henderson resident recently began her first production as the star, none other than Ariel herself, in Tokyo DisneySea Submitted photo

Unlike princess Ariel in The Little Mermaid, Taylor Henderson did not have to make a deal with any sea witch named Ursula to achieve a longtime dream.

It did take a lot of dedication, however.

The former Ahwatukee Foothills resident recently began her first production as the star, none other than Ariel herself, in Tokyo DisneySea's production "Under the Sea."

Henderson, a Desert Vista graduate, was selected out of 80 performers after an audition in California. She moved to Japan in July and the production began on Aug. 27.

Like many girls her age Henderson grew up watching The Little Mermaid, and on a regular basis.

"Ariel has always been my favorite Disney princess," she wrote in an e-mail. "I used to watch The Little Mermaid every day when I was little. Growing up, when I would do voice lessons or even just sing to myself, the only song I really loved to sing was ‘Part of Your World.'"

Henderson danced for the Kimberly Lewis School of Dance for 12 years and also taught in different places throughout the Valley.

She got her big break after seeing the audition on the website DisneyAuditions.com, a site Henderson checked weekly for opportunities. Although she called the competition, "fairly hard," she was selected and ultimately made the big move.

The show gives the effect that the audience is watching it from underwater and the moves performed by Henderson and cast mates resemble that of Cirque du Soleil.

"The rehearsal process was one of the hardest rehearsals I've ever had to do," Henderson wrote. "I consider myself fairly strong, but learning how to control my body in the harness was a completely new technique to me."

Moving to the Land of the Rising Sun was also unique to Henderson due to the fact that she had never been out of the United States. She said it will take time to adapt to the culture, but that she has already had a positive experience.

"I unfortunately made the mistake of leaving my wallet on the bus ride to work. I have everything in there, including my alien registration card and my (work) ID card," she wrote. "My first instinct was to call and cancel every card ... but when I mentioned it to one of my supervisors, she called the bus company and within 10 minutes of losing my wallet, she found it. Someone had turned it into the bus driver! I got my wallet back with everything inside of it, including my money!"

Henderson knows this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and can already see the effects even after just a couple short months.

"This is probably one of the biggest learning experiences of my life," she wrote. "I've already grown so much as a person, and learned so much about myself as an individual."

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