(The following press release and photo were submitted to MyFOX23.com from Belhaven University.)
December 18, 2017 (Jackson, Miss.) - Belhaven dance alumni, Leyna Woods ‘14 and Angela Belmonte ’16 were recently invited to the White House to perform for First Lady Melania Trump and honored guests November 27, 2017.
Belmonte, a company artist with Vivid Ballet, and Woods, a principal dancer and ballet mistress with the same company, both earned their B.F.A. in dance from Belhaven.
The White House didn't finalize the ballet performance until a week before, leaving little time for the dancers to prepare or rehearse. "There was a lot of on-the-spot choreography, but it was a good learning experience," said Belmonte. "It kept us on our toes, literally. It was a really special opportunity."
The performance in part kicked-off Christmas at the White House. The dancers performed The Nutcracker alongside a live orchestra, while the First Lady, members of the press and guest watched the enchanted dance. “Performing for the First Lady was the most magical and memorable experience,” said Woods. “The First Lady smiled and clapped for us at the end of our dance. It was an incredible honor to be invited to perform there.”
Betsy McMillan, former Belhaven dance faculty member and current director of Vivid Ballet Company said, “The event celebrated time honored Christmas traditions and nation veterans and had a creative arts time for children from military families. To have to opportunity to participate in such a meaningful event in one of our country's most historic and important venues was thrilling.”