Pantherettes to compete at Walt Disney World

FOREST PARK — The Forest Park High School Pantherettes, a second-year synchronized dance team, have qualified to compete in the 2013 National Dance Team Championships at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., in February. The event is sponsored by Universal Dance Association.

“The competition is billed as the largest and most prestigious national high school dance team competition in the country,” said Melissa Colon, team coach and dance instructor at Babb Middle School. “More than 1,000 teams from across the country attempted to qualify for the nationals. Only the best teams were chosen to advance in the competition.”

The team qualified for nationals by attending a dance camp in July at the University of Tennessee with 25 other competitors. It won the Superior Trophy by performing its own choreographed dance routine in the home competition category and arrangements taught at camp in the styles of jazz, high-kick and hip-hop categories.

It was the team’s diversity, Colon said, that set it apart from other groups competing in the summer event.

“We represent all the cultures that are found in our school system,” said Colon. “Plus, our girls are strong performers. They know how to show energy and they work hard in all we do.”

The 24-member team has already started practicing for the nationals.

“We practiced all of July and it is coming together,” said Colon. “We will be more than ready for the nationals.”

Colon, too, will be ready for the national contest.

“I have been watching this competition on television my entire life,” she said. “It has been my goal to place a team in this competition. This is my dream come true.”

Before the Pantherettes began a dance program last year at Forest Park High School, they performed under the name ZODIAX and competed in dance contests as an All-Star team. They represented Clayton County at events such as 106 & Park and Blaze The Stage talent competition in New York City. The group also performed at local events and school and organization competitions.

To make the trip to Florida, the team will begin fundraising efforts immediately. A dance workshop for middle and elementary students will be held Aug. 23 at Babb Middle School.