The Thomas Nelson ballroom dance team had fun on and off the floor on a recent trip to New York City.
The Thomas Nelson ballroom dance team took a weekend trip to New York City recently and came back with nine awards from the Big Apple Dancesport Challenge.
“It was great. We had a good time,” said Pamela Roberts, an adviser for the team, noting the only hiccup was when the team got lost on the subway.
The Dec. 1-2 competition was sponsored by the Columbia University Ballroom Dance Club and featured schools from all over the country including Princeton, Rutgers, Hofstra and Carnegie Mellon. Thomas Nelson was the only community college in attendance. There were more than 700 competitors, with about 100 couples in each division, said Roberts.
The College earned two first-place awards, one third, one fourth, three fifths and two sixths, with everyone advancing past the first round.
“They really represented,” said Roberts, who added there were four new dancers and three of them were in their first competition. “Especially my newcomers, I was so proud of them.”
It was the team's second competition in less than a month. The group competed in the fall nationals at the University of Maryland Nov. 9-11 and won seven awards.
“These kids have been so disciplined, really hard working,” Roberts said.
The group, which consisted of 11 team members and two advisers, arrived in New York the day before the competition so they could do some sightseeing. They visited the 9/11 Memorial Museum, Wall Street, Rockefeller Center and Times Square.
“We don’t normally get to play,” Roberts said. “It’s usually all business and then we come home. But they earned this.”
The team made an impression while there. Roberts said one judge, who hadn’t heard of Thomas Nelson, was blown away when he learned it was a community college.
“He said, ‘Well, obviously, you’re doing something right because you really did well,’” Roberts said.
After returning to Hampton Roads on Sunday night, the team members were already looking ahead to next semester. The spring nationals are in April, and there’s an event in Pennsylvania they are interested in.
“They dance all the time,” Roberts said. “They are constantly practicing, even over the break. As soon as they come back (from Christmas break), they’ll be right back in the competition.”
Faizon Alexander (captain), Eme Bassey-Duke, J.D. Ellis, Tiarra Johnson, Sierra Ferrell, Eddie Harden, Charis Hutton, Ryan Maloney, Valencia Remson, D’Aundre Seldon, Emily Williams
Faizon Alexander and Eme Bassey-Duke: First place, Newcomer division, Swing; fifth place, Newcomer division; Jive.
Faizon Alexander and Tiarra Johnson: Sixth place, Bronze division, Latin Jive.
D’Aundre Seldon and Tiarra Johnson: Sixth place, Silver division, Swing and Mambo.
Ryan Maloney and Charis Hutton: Third place, Newcomer division, Swing.
J.D. Ellis and Charis Hutton: Fourth place, Bronze division, Swing.
J.D. Ellis and Charis Hutton: Fifth place, Silver division, Jive and Samba.
Charis Hutton: First place, Bronze division smooth, Waltz and Tango; fifth place, Bronze division smooth, Foxtrot