Local dance talents from Vicksburg shine at prestigious Dance Teachers United Competition

Published 6:46 pm Sunday, November 26, 2023

Students from the Debra Franco School of Dance along with owner and instructor Debra Franco, received awards at the Dance Teachers United’s fall competition, which was held Nov. 4 and 5 at the Vicksburg Convention Center.

After delivering outstanding performances during the competition, Vicksburg residents Cambria Fuller, Charlotte Amborn, and Helena Wallace were honored with high placement awards.

Wallace secured the third-place award in her age division, Amborn was the recipient of the Martha Geeslin Showmanship Award and Fuller was awarded the Best Showmanship Award for her acrobatic dance and she received the prestigious Mary Alpha Johnson-Donnelly Choreography Award for her tap dance, which was choreographed by Vicksburg resident Marneicha Wilson. Wilson serves as the competition choreographer for the studio.

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Franco was recognized as the recipient of the esteemed Teacher of the Year Award.

“This was such an honor to receive from so many teachers from across four states,” Franco said. I felt so honored and blessed.”

Franco added while standing there listening to the president of DTU, Blake Coheley, read out all the wonderful things about the person that was going to receive the award, she was shocked when her name was called.

“I didn’t know how to respond. I almost didn’t go up and get the plaque,” laughed Franco.

Tiana Burks and Aubrey Simmons, both from Franco’s studio also stood out among their peers by earning scholarships based on their exceptional performances in Hip-hop and Ballet, respectively.

“These scholarships serve as a testament to their dedication and talent within their respective dance disciplines,” Franco said.

DTU is a leading organization in the dance industry and during November’s competition held in Vicksburg 250 dancers competed, 60 of whom were from Franco’s studio.

Serving as judges, Franco said “renowned” dancers and choreographers Trent Soyster, Barry Kerollis of New York City, and Aubrey Cervini of New Orleans.

The competition and judging were held on Saturday and classes were held on Sunday.

“Their (the judges) presence added immense value to the event, inspiring and guiding the aspiring dance students in attendance,” Franco said.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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