A Talented Team Of Local Dancers

A Talented Team Of Local Dancers The Wellington Royals Dance Team Looks To Continue The Magic After A Successful Season

By Mike May

One of the many Wellington High School teams that had an excellent season of competition this past year was the school’s dance squad, the Wellington Royals.

Led by head coach Alex Snyder, the squad produced great results when it finished first in the pom division and second in the hip-hop division in the regional competition at Jupiter High School in January. That propelled them to the Universal Dance Association (UDA) Florida State Championship held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando. There, against statewide competition, the Royals finished fourth in the hip-hop division and sixth in the pom division.

The success of last year’s team laid the foundation for what is expected to be another great season for the Royals.

“There are 22 amazing young ladies on the Wellington Royals Dance Team,” Snyder said. “They are super-talented, but more importantly, they are sweet, respectful, loving, kind, encouraging to one another, great friends, hard workers, passionate about dance, focused to improve, and extremely crazy, wacky and goofy!”

The 22 members of the Wellington Royals for the 2023-24 school year are: Abby Kitlas, Adriana Maranto, Alexa Iannone, Ava Alessi, Bri Maida, Daniella Iglesias, Erika Braswell, Gabrielle Torre, Helen Mossberg, Jade Barnett, Jayden Smith, Kennedy Smith, Lilly Simpson-Gay, Lola Simpson-Gay, Mackenzie Sauers, Mariana Villafane, McKelle Rhodes, Morgan Myers, Nailah Grullon, Sabrina Lucca, Sasha Campbell and Sofia Alessi.

For the upcoming Royals squad to be successful, Snyder needs leadership from within the team. To that end, she has named Kennedy Smith and Jade Barnett as the team’s captains.

“I need my captains to encourage everyone on the team, keep spirits high, be responsible for helping make team decisions and lead the warm-ups,” Snyder said.

Smith is delighted to be on the team, and she wants the upcoming season to be memorable.

“To me, being a Wellington Royal is an incredible honor,” Smith said. “Last year, my main focus was really pushing myself to improve. My inspiration is my teammates, and I want to do the best I can for them. My main goal for this year is to bond with the new team and have the most amazing season.”

Barnett takes her role as a captain seriously.

“It’s an honor and a huge privilege to get to be a part of this team and help lead our girls this year,” Barnett said. “I am pumped for this season and can’t wait to see what we accomplish.”

They agreed that the team’s camaraderie is one of its strengths.

“I love hanging out with girls from the team outside of school. It helps us connect better in things other than dance,” Smith said. “The best part of being on a team is the support system. One of our main goals is to really uplift each other. This helps during competitions because I know that we’re in this together.”

“The connection between all the girls is extremely close,” Barnett added. “We don’t just dance for the betterment of ourselves, but truly for each other.”

The Royals are a closely knit unit.

“One of my favorite parts of the dance team is the family aspect,” Smith explained. “I never feel alone, and I know that no matter what, I have 21 best friends by my side. The best part about being on a team is that you do everything together. You practice hard together, you cry, laugh and bond as one.”

“This team is a family,” Barnett agreed. “We are honest with one another, and we also are each other’s hype sisters. To be on the Wellington Royals team is a blessing for which I am truly grateful.”

Smith feels blessed to be on the team and to follow in her mom’s footsteps.

“My mother was on the Wellington High School dance team, so I love that I get to dance for this team,” she said.

The Wellington Royals will practice twice a week during the school year as they prepare for regional and state competitions. They also have other performances that allow them to hone their dance routines.

“We perform at every Wellington High School home football game and at any away football game where the band also travels to play,” Snyder said. “We also perform at a few boys and girls home basketball games, plus all the student pep rallies.”

When the squad practices, the team works on synchronization, which is a key component of their two-minute routines, which involve leaping, jumping, lifting and turning.

The Wellington Royals’ first dance competition of the new season will be in early December.

“We hope to host a dance competition on Dec. 2 for local high school dance teams,” Snyder said.

The regional competition will be on Jan. 6, 2024, and the UDA Florida State Championships are scheduled for Jan. 16, 2024, in Orlando.

If the squad is going to repeat the success that last year’s team had, it will all come down to preparation.

“As a team, if we all continue to give 110 percent at practice, I have no doubt how far we can go and what we can achieve,” Barnett said.

According to Barnett, the experience of competing at the UDA Florida State Championship this past January made a big impression on the entire team.

“Exposing ourselves to higher-level competition really allowed us to see how we could push ourselves to be better,” she said. “Other dance teams who compete every year were a huge inspiration to us. We have grown tremendously by challenging ourselves with more intricate choreography.”

In addition to focusing on the team’s immediate goals, the group also sets aside time to focus on the program’s future.

“We do two clinics for kids — kindergarten through eighth grade — in our community,” Snyder added. “Our dancers love investing in the kids, and it’s a great opportunity for younger kids to see if it’s something they may be interested in pursuing. The first clinic will be Aug. 26 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The junior dancers will get to perform at a Wellington High School football game.”

For more information about the Wellington Royals and the junior clinics, contact Snyder at wellingtondanceteam@gmail.com.