Students returned to school with a skip in their steps knowing they would be learning the art of hip-hop dance.
The program is being held for two weeks at Ponoka Elementary School (PES), made possible with a grant from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, says Grade 5 teacher Paula Wilkins. She feels students in rural schools can benefit from these programs. “It gives them memories they wouldn’t always have.”
“We’re excited to start this year off on an exciting note,” added Laeta Morskate, education assistant and co-author of the grant.
Dancers from Sound Kreations are teaching students how to pop, lock and b-boy (or b-girl) themselves onto the stage; the break dancing moves provide physical activity and new dance skills, says dancer Ben Perrin. “With a lengthier program we can get a lot more in-depth.”
One of the moves kids seem to enjoy the most is locking. “It’s very relaxed. I find kids pick up on it easily,” added Perrin.
The idea is for dancers to tense their muscles in such a way they dance in small movements. His goal is to ensure students can identify and perform each dance form at a final performance for parents.
“I would like all the kids to have confidence in what they’re doing,” he said.
Learning to dance is a confidence builder, added Perrin. He remembers being a shy kid but performing on stage builds a certain level of confidence he hopes students will be able to retain. The dance styles are also something boys and girls seem to enjoy and want to take home to their family.
Perrin advises parents interested in putting their children in dancing to investigate the many options. “Look at the local studios and try lots of stuff out.”
The grant comes from Arts in Education and provides 75 per cent of the fees for rural schools; the rest was paid for by the PES parent council.
“We have a great school council that agrees to top up the last 25 per cent,” said Morskate.
Bringing Sound Kreations back came from a strong positive response by parents and students, she added. “We had such a good response that we thought, this year, let’s do a full program.”
Another benefit of the program is it gets boys excited about dancing and performing, said Morskate. “Dance usually doesn’t sit well with the boys but the boys totally dig this.”
This is the seventh year in a row PES has been awarded the Arts in Education grant and Wilkins says about 20 hours were spent putting everything together. She enjoys being able to bring these programs to the students.
Performances for parents are set for Sept. 13 for grades 5, 6 and 2 and for Sept. 20 for grades 1, 3 and 4.