RICHMOND, Va. -- Families across Central Virginia came together Sunday to honor beloved dancer and dance instructor Tony Colden Jr.
The 34-year-old dance coach at Virginia Union University died unexpectedly Wednesday after being hospitalized.
Family, friends, students and colleagues gathered on Virginia Union University's Hovey Field to celebrate his life.
VUU Band Director Fayesha Cousins told the crowd that it was "OK to be sad" and "to cry" as she remembered Colden's impact on many.
"And I just thank God that we crossed paths," she said.
Dance studio: 'Nothing will be good enough to describe the light that Tony brought into our lives'
Colden also taught modern and hip hop dance for the elite dance team dELIRIUM at Chesterfield Dance Center in Midlothian.
Parents said he adored the kids and they adored their “Mr. Tony.”
"Tony has touched so many with his sweet moves, his quick wit, his bear hugs, and a laugh that could fill a room," officials with the Chesterfield Dance Center posted on Facebook. "While teaching at CDC since 2012, Tony taught Tap and Modern, but was best known for his Hip Hop. He built the program due to his extreme talent and ability to reach students of all levels. Your legacy will live on as we continue to move and groove."
The dance school, which was closed over the weekend, held a balloon release Sunday to honor their teacher, co-worker and friend.
"Our hearts go out to Tony’s family and friends," dace center officials wrote.
Another gathering in honor of Colden's birthday is planned for this Thursday at Monroe Park.