Sports Person of the Week
Angelo Made the Most of Her Chance to Dance
Senior captain Emma Angelo finished her career with the Branford dance team by helping the Hornets claim a pair of titles at this year’s State Championship meet. (Photo courtesy of Emma Angelo)
As she watched her two older sisters compete in dance, Emma Angelo knew that she wanted to be in their shoes one day. During the past four years, Emma has had that chance as a member of the dance team at Branford High School, where she’s won multiple state championships and was named a captain for her senior season.
Emma started dancing at Studio ONE in Branford when she was in 1st grade. Emma danced there until the 5th grade, when she joined the Walsh Intermediate School’s competition dance team.
After seeing her sisters Maggie and Sophie compete at Walsh, Emma wanted to do the same. However, the more she danced, the more the sport became Emma’s own passion, rather than something she did to be like her sisters.
“My two older sisters started dancing. I always looked up to them and did what they did. Literally, everything they did when I was little, I wanted to do. They joined Walsh, so then I joined Walsh,” says Emma. “But at a certain point, dance became what I liked to do. I fell in love with it and have been doing it ever since.”
After competing at Walsh through middle school, Emma joined the Branford dance team as a freshman. In that first season, Emma was already on the Hornets’ competition hip-hop squad. Emma’s freshman year opened her eyes to what the competition would be like and gave her an opportunity to dance on a grand stage with the team she always wanted be to on.
“It was a big difference from Walsh. We go to the national competition. We dance in a whole different arena,” Emma says. “It was a great opportunity to be able to dance here. I’ve always looked up and wanted to dance here.”
During her freshman and sophomore seasons, Emma was an alternate on the competitive jazz team, in addition to being a hip-hop dancer. In her junior year, she joined the competition jazz team for its performances. Emma then spent the next two seasons competing for Branford’s hip-hop and jazz dance squads.
“Hip-hop and jazz are very different,” says Emma. “Hip-hop is more hard-hitting with cool tricks and a variety of styles. Jazz is usually slower. It’s more flow-y with turns. I always thought I was stronger in hip-hop, but it has been great growing in jazz, too.”
This season, Emma and the Hornets competed at the Dance State Championships for the first time in two years. Branford took first place in both the Large Jazz Division and the Small Hip-Hop Division to claim the school’s seventh-straight state title in both categories.
While Branford was certainly looking to win, Emma says that her team was more focused on putting forth its best performance each time it competed. That way, no matter what, the Hornets would feel good about themselves and know that they left everything they had on the floor.
“When we’re competing, it’s in the back of our heads that we want to win, but we want to put our best routine of the season out every time we compete,” Emma says. “We just have to keep pushing to be the best we can be. If it is a win, great, but if not, it’s out of our control at this point.”
In her senior season, Emma served as a captain for the Hornets alongside fellow senior Anna Perricone. Emma felt honored to be named captain and lead a team of athletes who she calls her best friends. As a senior leader, Emma knew that she needed to feel confident in her herself in competitions. As her confidence grew, Emma performed to the best of her abilities and helped lead Branford to a pair of state championships.
“I’ve just become more confident in my dancing. I used to be nervous and unsure of myself. But I realized that the more confident you get, the better you get,” says Emma. “People can see that when you’re performing. That’s what has helped me.”
Head Coach Megan Palluzzi has seen Emma grow into the athlete and leader that she is today. Palluzzi says that Emma is a strong dancer who is always there for her teammates in the biggest moments.
“Emma is an extremely kindhearted and talented dancer who cares for her team immensely,” Palluzzi says. “Emma brings positivity to every single moment and steps up to every occasion ready for whatever it brings.”
Emma has enjoyed every second of competing for the Branford dance team. As she looks back at her time with the Hornets, Emma feels lucky to have performed at one of the highest levels, while doing something that she loves with people that she loves.
“Sometimes people don’t give dance enough credit. Branford has such a great program. Dance is super hard. It’s just as much of a sport as any other. We are working the entire year,” says Emma. “But it’s a great experience. You learn so much about yourself, how to be on a team, how to grow as a dancer. And you get to just have fun with dance.”