close
close

The Athens dance studio Devas Tigerettes is holding a fundraiser

The Athens dance studio Devas Tigerettes is holding a fundraiser

One look from the parking lot outside Deva’s Tigerettes studio is enough to tell just how good the Athens-based dance team is. More than a dozen trophies line the window, and many more can be found in founder and owner Nadeva “Deva” Ham’s east-side rehearsal room, where she trains and mentors local youth until they emerge victorious in competitions.

The studio will hold its “Summer Zone” benefit event on Saturday from 1-5 p.m. at Lay Park. In addition to Deva’s Tigerettes, the event will also feature performances by the Homicyde team of The League of Step, the Prodigy Elite Dolls, and sets by local hip-hop artists Angela the Arsonist, Kxng Blanco, LB, Shawanna J and Squallé.

Questions and answers: How Athens-based visual artist Paige Walcott combined passion and practicality

Although Deva’s Tigerettes studio only opened its doors in April, the team’s history can be traced back to 2015, when Deva was a cheerleading coach at Hilsman Middle School. Since childhood, Deva had a talent for organizing home versions of elimination-based reality TV shows, and she used her skills to convince a group of friends and family members to enter a dance competition in Atlanta.

“We came in our normal clothes because we didn’t have proper costumes,” Deva told the Banner-Herald. “The other teams wore jean shorts, black T-shirts and little undershirts. In the end, we still won.”

Deva’s Tigerettes specialize in the majorette dance style, an athletic performance with ties to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and a variety of influences from jazz and hip-hop to ballet. Majorette was in the early stages of organized competition when Deva met Cheryl Carter, founder of the Atlanta-based team Mystik Dazzling Diamonds. With Carter’s encouragement, Deva continued with the Tigerettes even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just as college majorettes do with marching bands on the field, Deva’s Tigerettes practiced their Georgia State award-winning choreography outdoors and in sublet spaces until April 7, 2024, when the grand opening of their studio in Suite 9 at 50 Gaines School Road will take place. Deva told the Banner-Herald that the July 13 fundraiser will help the studio install mirrors and fund a trip to a dance camp in Augusta.

“I grew up with the privilege of being raised in a two-parent home, but many of the girls who dance for me don’t have that,” Deva said. “My way of giving back to this community is to let these mothers know that they now have a village and that they can rely on me as if they were another parent.”

The Lay Park Community Center is located at 297 Hoyt St. in Athens. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. For more ticket information, visit instagram.com/devas_tigerettes.