Eldersburg dancers help set world record for hugs in one minute

The dancers of Eldersburg’s Savage Dance Company are used to performance, but on Sunday they tried something a little different than ballet, hip-hop or modern: setting a Guinness World Record.

The record for most hugs in a minute, specifically, which currently stands at just less than 90 hugs, according to Lorraine Zicha, social media representative for the company.


“The current record of 86 was documented on Oct. 9, 2017, in New York City,” she said.

On Sunday, 10-year-old Grace Roberts, of Ashburn, Virginia, may have smashed that record, hugging more than 100 dancers, from Savage as well as two other companies, as a tribute to her little brother, Noah, who is battling brain cancer. It was captured from multiple camera angles, and now awaits confirmation by Guinness, according to Mike Gillette, communications manager for the Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation.


“It takes a couple of months for the Guinness specialists to review the evidence and issue a decision,” he said.

The company recently competed in New Jersey in a World Of Dance competition, and, despite being the only 18 and younger company, won.

Sunday’s attempt isn’t the only opportunity either: On the previous Sunday, Sept. 16, Grace, the Savage Dancers, and dancers from C and C Company, of Bowie, and Ashburn Academy of Dance, of Ashburn, attempted to set the new record at the Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation’s CureFest for Childhood Cancer in Washington, D.C.

“Grace hugged 103 dancers in under one minute at that event,” Zicha said. “However, after reviewing the video footage, we think some of the hugs may not qualify.”

Footage from both attempts will be submitted, according to Gillette, but he noted the record is only a means to an end, raising awareness of the limited resources for childhood cancer patients like Noah.

“He has very limited treatment options, and that’s due in part to the lack of funding for research,” he said. “What Grace wants to bring attention to is the fact that pediatric oncologists don’t have the resources they need to treat someone like her brother.”

That, and creating a space that is healing for her family.

“This has been amazing for our entire family, it’s kind of what we needed,” said Grace and Noah’s mother, Chantill. “This has been hard on the whole family and this brought us all together.”

The Bosom Buddies of Carroll County, a group of women who met three years ago through the Carroll Hospital Embrace program for breast cancer survivors, have raised more than $10,000 for that program in just more than three months.

Gillette said the foundation transported the Roberts family to Eldersburg for Sunday’s attempt in a limo, trying to make the whole event a bright spot for them.

“We had 120 huggers and then we had anther 40 or 50 parents or so that were there supporting the cause,” said Nicole Savage, director of the Savage Dance Company. “It’s overwhelming to see that many student and families coming together to assist and work with the Roberts family.”

The Robertses, Savage and her dance company initially met through Gillette and his foundation’s Dance Hope Cure campaign, which features dancers.

“I have several dancers who have modeled for Dance Hope Cure and they are serving as ambassadors for Dance Hope Cure,” Savage said.

“One of our spokespersons, Lily Weaver started dancing there after she had been treated for cancer, and then relapsed last fall,” Gillette said. “Her dance family at Savage totally embraced her and supported her.”


Now the dance company and the foundation plan to continue working together in the future, according to Gillette.

“They’ve really stepped up, and it’s almost like having an army of volunteers willing to raise awareness,” he said. “They are so passionate about everything in their lives, you take that and you focus it in on a cause like childhood cancer and they can really make a huge difference.”

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