Thursday, March 26, 2009

After school, Bruner students ballroom dancing

From (Fort Walton Beach, Florida):

By Robbyn Brooks

Bruner Middle School teacher Beth Anderson walked behind a line of dancers, tugging baggy pants up. Baggy pants just aren't proper ballroom dancing attire.

Despite the tennis shoes and faded blue jeans, about 40 students are learning proper dance techniques in a voluntary after-school program. The classes began March 3, and already the kids have learned aspects of the tango, cha-cha, waltz and rumba. "This is a whole new arena for them to be in," Anderson said. "They wouldn't get to do this otherwise. Many can't do cotillion and they have no way to participate in something so expensive."

But through the special program that Fred Astaire Dance Studio is helping with, the budding dancers are on their way to a Bruner Middle School dance competition in May. The cost to participate in the eight-week session was only $18. The students pick up their new steps in the school cafeteria on Tuesday afternoons.

"I thought it would be fun," said Phillip Thomas, 13, who first came to watch his brother in the class. "I'm a football player and I think it will help with my footwork."

Thomas also said the stigma of men who dance is fading. No one has said anything to him about dancing being "for girls," he said.

Sarah Hunt, a 13-year-old ballet dancer, said she only expected a handful of people to show up."I was surprised, especially with the guys," she said. "Some of them are having a hard time, but they are trying and that is what is important."

Dance instructors Katie and Ronald Gullien make the classes fun with jokes and music and relate well to the kids, Anderson said.

"This has really been beneficial to how the children relate to each other outside of these classes and in their school life," Anderson said. "It's been amazing."

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