AMHERST - For the first time ever, the Atlantic Dance Academy competed at the Dance World Cup. But that didn't stop the 14 participants from coming home with gold and silver medals around their necks.
"It was really fun," said Drew Pettis.
"It was kind of nerve wracking," added Astrid Robichaud.
With five different performances, the dancers came home with three gold medals and two silver from the world competition.
The three performances earning top spot were Ants and Dragonfly, Michaela Stiles' solo entitled Coppelia, and Adagio - the duo with Corina Stiles and Jonathan MacDonald.
Earning silver were Jazz It Up and Praying Mantis.
"I knew we had a good piece and a good competition, but I wasn't sure," said Corina about the duo with Amherst's MacDonald.
"I was really happy and excited. And surprised we beat Portugal."
MacDonald said the whole experience was awesome and very humbling.
"We had a chance to meet very diverse dancers," he said. "It was great to feed off their energy.
"We rooted for each other."
At the national competition, two of the performances - Ants and Dragonfly, and Coppelia - placed first. Praying Mantis and Adagio came in second, while Jazz It Up was given a third place ranking.
The national and world competition was the first of its kind for the dancers - the academy was established in Amherst six years ago.
"They did the best they could," said Dina Leisch, who founded the academy and instructs the students. "I wasn't sure how much success they would have. I'm so happy for them.
"They have a passion and love for the art of dance," said Leisch, adding she wants to restart that passion and move forward.