Bergen County Catholic School Dance Group Earns National Accolades

A trip to the Universal Dance Association High School National Championship always yields good news for the Academy of the Holy Angels.

This year was no exception, as the varsity team double medaled, earning silver and bronze in hip-hop and pom, respectively. “Our dance program made history in Orlando, placing in the top five in the nation in all of our varsity and junior varsity routines,” Coach Jenny Sweet reported.

“The Holy Angels Dance Team is the only team in the Northeast to have ranked in the top five at this year’s event.” The Angels were edged out of first place in small varsity hip-hop by a 0.03-point margin.

The dancers took second place out of a field of 56 teams. The varsity dancers also placed third out of a field of 86 pom teams, bringing home the highest national finish in pom in program history. The JV team placed fifth in hip-hop, fourth in pom, and third in JV Game Day.

“Game Day is a division where we showcase our school traditions and get evaluated on our school involvement and community service,” Sweet explained.

Members of the varsity team include Sophia Costa of Oradell, Ciara Wacker, Noelle Wacker, and Bridget Ryan of Emerson; Natasha Vafiadis of Englewood; Giselle Martin of Bergenfield; Olivia Martinez of Paramus, Carmela Alessio of Belleville, Tamara Kim of Demarest, Valeria Pernicone of New Milford, Ella Cho of Old Tappan, and Hannah Kim of Cresskill.

AHA’s JV dancers include Daniella Hernandez of Northvale, Gabriela Sandoval of Washington Township, Ani Gueyikian of Fort Lee, Kaitlyn Grifonetti of Old Tappan, Arwen Parmelee of Upper Saddle River, Lydia Schmidhauser of Pomona (New York), Jordyn Wynn of Englewood Isabella McMahon of West Orange, and Kathryn Fragola of Bergenfield. JV coaches include AHA Dance Team alumnae Kristen DePeri (2009) and Alyssa Aponte (2012).

The AHA Varsity Dance Team holds four consecutive national titles, which the Angels earned in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. En route to the 2020 UDA event, the Angels won a first-place finish in varsity pom at the 2019 DC Championship, where AHA also received the Best Choreography Award. AHA’s dancers also chalked up four first-place wins at the Ramapo Invitational.

The Angels and their coaches appreciated the number of alumnae and families who made the trip to Orlando to cheer on the dance teams.

Supporters included Kait Lack, Natalie Quinn, Sahar Ali-Jenkins, A’Adil Ali-Jenkins, Safia Ali-Jenkins, Melina Tidwell Torres, Emily Yang, Julia Creange, Mary Callagee, Cathy Callagee, Alyssa Aponte, Doreen Aponte, Gerry Aponte, Sam Kim, Krystina Vafiadis, Amanda Hernandez, Laurie Gibney, Patti Cebulski, and Ted Cebulski.