St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands (USVI NEWS) — Dancing their way to be a debutant.
“I just wanted to learn how to dance and basically expose myself to different things because I am not really used to dance on the regular,” Nichel Daniel a senior at St. Peter and Paul School said.
Nichel Daniel is one of six young women ready to be introduced to society as a debutant. In a 42-year-old tradition, the ladies of Eta Phi Beta Sorority Inc, the Alpha Chi Chapter, help girls between the ages of 14-18 progress into adulthood.
“I find that it is quite a rewarding feeling after working with the students for 8-10 weeks and you see them in their school uniforms, you see them in their casual clothing and then the evening of the ball they all transform in young ladies and young gentleman. It is really heartwarming, sometimes tear jerking,” Marva Emanuel the President of the Chapter said.
Before the big night, it’s a lot of practicing for the students involved and their escorts. They are practicing at All Saints Hall in St. Thomas with just days to go until their reveal.
“We just go through the types of dances. We have salsa, swing, the Waltz,” Nyalah Jackson, a student at Charlotte Amalie High School said.
Former debutants and instructors look on. Sometimes reflecting on their own experience. Like 90-year-old Aneglita Jennings who has been helping the debutants for 30 of their 42 years.
“It sort of promotes you from beign a pre-teen to a teenager and especially now going to college you’re a young lady and it is nice to do these kinds of things and find out there is other things to do besides smoking and doing nonsense,” Jennings added.
For many of the girls, it is a rite of passage for their families. Following in their aunts, grandmothers or mothers’ footsteps.
“My other cosuins are in it, my grandmother is a member of the Eta Phi Beta Sorority and so is my aunt. So I was told you know that this was a good opportunity to introduce yourself to others in a nice formal way,” Alexa Comissiong a junior at All Saints School said.
It is an experience they’re share with the families and friends. A memory, they’ll always have together.
The 42 annual debutant ball is this Saturday at Antilles school at 7pm.
Tickets for the ball are $50.00 per person and can be purchased by calling Marcella Jennings-Collier at 340-228-4989.