December 4, 2020

Two Belhaven dance alums performed for Melania Trump as part of a White House holiday celebration

Two dancers who earned their degrees from Belhaven University in Jackson were invited to the White House in November to perform for First Lady Melania Trump and other guests.
Leyna Wood and Angela Belmonte—both members of Vivid Ballet dance company—performed The Nutcracker with other dancers alongside a live orchestra as part of a Christmas kickoff celebration at the White House.
The dancers had little time to prepare due to the timing of when the performance was finalized, according to a press release.
“There was a lot of on-the-spot choreography, but it was a good learning experience,” Belmonte said. “It kept us on our toes, literally. It was a really special opportunity.”
Trump, members of the press and other guests watched the performance.
“Performing for the First Lady was the most magical and memorable experience,” Woods said. “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.”
Belmonte and Woods aren’t the only Mississippi connections to Vivid Ballet, which is based in Connecticut. Former Belhaven dance faculty member Elizabeth McMillan is Vivid Ballet’s founder and artistic director.
“To have the opportunity to participate in such a meaningful event in one of our country’s most historic and important venues was thrilling,” she said.