UMSL Collaborative Brings Dance, Music to Area Schools
Cameron Arnold, a fifth-grader at Jennings (Mo.) Northview Elementary School, dons the electric bass of musician Jeff Anderson in an impromptu meet and greet on stage at the Sheldon Concert Hall in St. Louis. (Photo by August Jennewein)
Merengue music blares out of a boom box as a group of about 40 fifth-graders at Buder Elementary School in south St. Louis walk arm-in-arm into the school gymnasium. The curriculum for the next hour – ballroom dancing.
Putting the group through its paces is Angie Brooks, program manager for St. Louis Dancing Classrooms and a teaching artist.
“We’re going to have fun,” Brooks says to the students. “We’re going to enjoy ourselves, but we also still need to be serious about dancing.”
This is Brooks’ fourth year teaching dance in schools as part of the collaborative, and she’s a huge fan of the program. She says while the kids think they’re learning to dance, they’re actually getting so much more out of the experience.
“I love the fact that St. Louis Dancing Classrooms is able to use dance to build character and promote positive interaction within the kids. It’s not just about moving around, it’s about getting along with one another and seeing your classmates in a different way.”