By Keisha Graziadei
Special to SWoCo
The montage of trophies in their bedrooms spoke for the two young dancers, before the interview. Some stood from the floor to eye-level, while others densely covered shelves and dresser tops.
The Southwest Roanoke County home of Jim and Beth d’Alelio houses two of the Divine Dance Center’s very accomplished competition dancers, brothers Tony and Joey d’Alelio, 16 and 12 respectively. Tony is a sophomore at Cave Spring High School, and Joey a sixth-grader at Cave Spring Middle School.
The boys dance nearly any form: ballet, hip hop, jazz and clogging. Tony favors contemporary while Joey’s favorite is musical theater.
Both brothers started dancing at age 9 but were inspired for different reasons.
“At first it was because of girls,” Joey said and cracked a smile. “But then later I realized I really liked it.”
Tony was first inspired after seeing videos of his mother singing, dancing and acting while attending Shenandoah University. Anything that was on a stage and in the spotlight would have been fine for Tony, so he decided to audition for “The Nutcracker.” He landed a part as “Fritz,” discovered he was good at dance and pursued it.
In competition, Joey’s duo, “Two of a Kind,” won overall best recreational performance, and Tony was awarded first place for “They Both Reached for the Gun.”
Tony told a story that once while on stage he completely forgot his choreography and had to improvise nearly the entire routine on the spot. Somehow he still took second place. This hasn’t happened to Joey yet, but his biggest challenge was overcoming stage fright, which didn’t take more than three performances.
A moment of free time is extremely rare as the boys’ lives revolve around school, drama club and hours of studio practice with their Divine Dance Center instructor, Riley Fitzgerald.
The Brambleton Avenue studio has given Tony the opportunity to train with dancers who were hand-picked for Britney Spears and Michael Jackson, as well as travel and perform solo as Junior and Teen Mr. Dance (like Miss America, but of the dance world).
“Riley makes sure we’re exposed to great dance education all over the East Coast,” Tony explained. He had been practicing for “Thoroughly Modernly Millie,” 20 minutes of which his team performed in Manhattan this month.
“I want to do Broadway,” Tony said, as his eyes lit up. He told a story of the only time he saw a Broadway production in New York. “After seeing the energy and passion on stage, I know I’m just going to get it!”
Joey is practicing for his school’s “Annie Junior” play and a duo with his best friend, Claudia Anderson.
“We’re really proud of them and support them in anything they want to do,” said mother, Beth. “It’s busy trying to schedule everything … even dinner … but if you can do something you love, why not encourage it?”
“I’m amazed at what they do,” their father, Jim, added. “And just when I think they can’t get any better, they do.”
Beth is a teacher’s assistant at High Park Elementary School, and Jim is an entrepreneur. Only Beth travels with the boys to regional competitions, but the whole family goes to nationals, including the third brother and avid supporter, Nick.
Tony wants to attend The University of Cincinnati or Shenandoah University as his mother did. Joey said he wants to do the same and, likewise, go on Broadway.
“As long as there are girls,” Jim added, chuckling.