The Phunk Phenonemon junior dance team has struck gold once again.
Competing at the USA Hip Hop National Championships in Phoenix, Arizona, where the temperature outside the Arizona Grand was 115 degrees, the Phunk’s nine-member dance team captured first place in the USA Junior Division Gold.
Chelsea had its share of contributors to Phunk’s national championship performance. Phunk is coached by Chelsea High graduate and former New England Patriots cheerleader Reia Briggs-Connor.
For Briggs-Connor, owner of the Phunk Phenomenon Dance Complex in Everett, it was her sixth national title and the second consecutive crown in the Junior Division.
“It was a full sold-out audience each time they performed,” said Briggs-Connor, daughter of Barbara Casino of Chelsea. “It was amazing. There were 53 countries there and we took ninth in the worlds.”
One of the most spectacular dancers for Phunk is Aaron Connor, 9-year-old son of Reia Briggs-Connor and Everett Police Officer Rick Connor.
“It’s pretty cool to have your son on the team,” said Reia. “His nana still lives in Chelsea. I’m proud of him. It was a great kickoff to our dance season.”
Chelsea also had two identical twin sisters, 11-year-olds Mya and Madyson Feliz, excelling for the Phunk contingent. They are the daughters of former Chelsea High basketball star Charol Soto, (who played on the school’s greatest team ever alongside Autumn Lopez and Denise Chappell), and Jovanny Feliz.
“Madyson and are from Chelsea and I’m so proud of them since I’m a Chelsea girl myself,” said Reia.
Madyson said she has been dancing at Reia’s studio since she was five years old. She said it was exciting to be on a national championship team.
“It felt really good to win because I’ve been training for a lot of years and it actually paid off,” said Madyson, who showed her talents with a backhand spring during the routine. “I like dancing a lot. It’s my passion and it’s just really fun and I just like to do it. It’s fun having my sister dancing with me.”
Maydson praised Coach Reia, saying, “She’s really nice and caring and wants to help everybody. She’s just a great teacher.”
Charol Soto traveled to Arizona to watch her daughters win a national championship.
“I’m happy that my mother was there,” said Madyson, who has performed with L’il Phunk at Boston Celtics games. “She helps a lot and makes sure that everything is organized.”
Mya Feliz said the hard work paid off the team.
“I was really excited because the hard work all summer paid off,” said Mya. “We could have been doing something else but I’m glad I was dancing.”
Mya said it was “unbelievable” when the announcement was made that Phunk had won the gold medal.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Mya, who with her sister, simultaneously executed the backhand spring in the routine. “I was starting to cry a little bit because I was so happy.”
The Feliz twins practice together at home and are also classmates in school. Both girls also play basketball. Mya thanked her mother for her support and encouragement. “I just love her,” said Mya.
Aaron Connor brought home his second national championship medal.
“I didn’t expect to be a two-time medalist but I came in confident and I got it,” said Aaron. “We work well as a team and we help each other out on the stage.”
Aaron is in third season performing with L’il Phunk at Celtics’ games. “I like the crowd – it really pumps me up,” said Aaron, who thanked his parents for their important role in his success in dance.
Speaking about his twin teammates from Chelsea, Aaron said, “They [Mya and Madyson] are awesome. I love my team.”
Reia Remembers her Teacher and her Best Friend from Chelsea
Reia Briggs-Connor said it’s been a difficult summer to coach the Phunk Phenomenon dance team. “I lost my dance teacher, Genevieve Spinelli, and I just want to thank her for everything she did for me. Being from a small studio in Chelsea and being able to grow in to something like this and bring these kids to meet people from all over the world, from what Genevieve taught me, it means a lot.”
Reia also paid tribute to her best friend, Trina Wilkerson, who passed away in March. “We’ve started a scholarship program for Chelsea kids through the Trina Wilkerson Dance Foundation,” said Reia. “We’ll be holding an essay contest for the scholarships.”