CRESTVIEW — Entering a January dance competition just to be a good sport has turned a local attorney into an avid dancer who has earned multiple first-place prizes following her first regional competition.


CRESTVIEW — Entering a January dance competition just to be a good sport has turned a local attorney into an avid dancer who has earned multiple first-place prizes following her first regional competition.



Muncelle Mitchell, of the Chesser and Barr law firm's Crestview office, competed in the Aug. 23-24 Central Dance Championships in Sarasota.



Dancing in the student category with her Fred Astaire Dance Studio instructor Chris Schultz, Mitchell competed in the waltz, tango, Viennese waltz, rumba and cha-cha, netting 34 first-place and six second-place awards.



"It was a little scary at first," Mitchell said of her first big competition. "But Chris was wonderful. He's an amazing teacher and kept me calm."



Mitchell first tried ballroom dancing when friends encouraged her to participate in January's Dance for Life fundraiser at Crestview High School. She never imagined she'd still be dancing, let alone in a large regional competition.



"It quickly became an addiction and a love," she said. "I didn't think I'd ever be competing, but I'm certainly glad that I did. It was an unforgettable experience."



"She is already a strong regional contender," studio co-owner David Colón said.



The studio's staff also competed and brought awards back to Crestview. Colón and Hannah Kania won second place in the mixed novice tango and mambo category.



Schultz joined instructor Katie Guillen in the open smooth tango and foxtrot category for another second-place medal.



Dancing is now an integral part of Mitchell's life and part of her wellness regimen.



"I don't think I could function without my weekly lessons with Chris," she said. "Mentally, physically, it's great therapy."



Contact News Bulletin Arts & Entertainment Editor Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or brianh@crestviewbulletin.com. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.