Melissa Willey was dubious when she received word last year that she had been invited to the London Olympics.

After all, her specialty — dance — isn’t an Olympic event.

“I didn’t think it was real at first,” she said of the invitation from the American Alliance of Performing Arts Educators. “I thought it was a scam. I hired a lawyer.”

After some checking, however, she found out that the invitation was on the level and that Willey, the owner of Scarborough Dance Center, would be choreographing and helping to stage a couple of dance performances at the upcoming Olympics.

Going with Willey will be dancers Tyla Hagan, Paige Unni, Kayla Finley, Lyndsey Anderson and Haley McOsker. The AAPAE is paying for Willey’s travel expenses, and the dance center and dancers raised another $20,000 over the past year to pay for the expenses of the performers and family members who are heading to London, where the Olympics begin Friday.

In all, a group of 19 people connected with the dance center are heading over for the event, and they will stay until Aug. 1, Willey said. The group will perform at Warwick Castle, site of the fencing competition, on July 28; then the next day at Island Gardens Arena, a park on the Thames River a short distance from where equestrian events are being held. Willey said tapes of the performances will be posted on the SDC’s website at when the group returns.

Willey said she’s put together a routine that highlights the athleticism that dance requires, to capture the crowds’ attention and also because it reflects the Olympics’ status as the world’s premier athletic event.

She said the result is an energetic jazz dance, with lots of acrobatics, jumping and moves requiring flexibility.

“They perform through this with a smile on their faces, even though it’s physically exhausting,” Willey said.

The dancers were chosen because they were advanced and Willey knew they could handle both the routine and performing in an unfamiliar place before a crowd of strangers.

“They’re a great and energetic group of girls,” she said.

Willey said that even though she’s known she would be going to London for more than a year, the reality has hit her only recently. She got married last month and, naturally, much of her attention was focused on her wedding.

After the wedding, she told her dancers, “OK, it’s really here, guys.”

Willey said she isn’t sure how she and her dance studio came to the attention of the AAPAE, but figures it was probably award-winning performances by her students in regional and national competitions.

Willey won’t be dancing in London — at least not on stage. She said she’s been dancing since she was 3, teaching since she was 12 and bought the studio at 22.

Now 30, she’s happy to focus on teaching her students rather than performing herself.

“I’ve officially said, ‘I’m a teacher now,’ ” Willey said. “I’m happily backstage.”

Willey said she and the dancers don’t have tickets to any of the Olympic events, but the AAPAE is providing transportation for sightseeing and there are a couple of dinners at which they will be able to mingle with members of the other 14 dance groups that are going to London to take part.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.