Do you think elementary students can’t tango? Think again! At William Reid School, Monsieur Martin from the Calgary Dance Foundation has worked hard with kindergarten to Grade 4 students (291 of them) to teach them foundations of ballroom etiquette and dancing. Each grade learned a specific dance: Kindergarten: Warm up (step up from the Chicken dance), Grade 1: Merengue, Grade 2: Tango, Grade 3: Swing, Grade 4: Waltz.
It has been amazing to witness the progress the students have made: from putting their hands in the pockets or hiding their hands in their long sleeves to standing tall, having a tall and wide frame and to stepping in time with the music. The initial giggles turned into looks of respect and not a single student feels ‘strange’ any longer having to dance with a classmate.
Some of the Grade 4 dancers were asked to represent William Reid School on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 at the annual fundraising event of the Calgary Dance Foundation. Seven William Reid students proudly danced a waltz at the evening event, making their parents proud and the donors appreciative of what their money is helping to do. One student had to miss her soccer practice to join this event. Her mom commented: “My daughter can play soccer any day of the week. This is a once-in-a lifetime-opportunity!”
Students used a number of different strategies to help them cope with the excitement of it all:
“I was so scared at the beginning. I felt sick to my stomach. When I started dancing, I told myself that I could do it! And it went well. So it was scary, but fun in the end.”
“I put my head into practicing. I imagined I was in the gym, doing my dance. It’s how I stayed focused and calm.”
“I was scared at first. Monsieur Martin told me it was ok to make mistakes, so I relaxed. It was exciting, nerve wrecking. I felt like a bouncy ball. When we were done, I was really proud to have done it.”
“I felt excited. I wondered when it would start and when we’d have our turn. Then it was our turn, and I was focusing on smiling and just doing my job!”
”I felt nervous and scared. I reminded myself to just smile and that it would be over soon. I really enjoyed dressing up.”
After the dance performance for all the parents, this is what some of them said:
“Just extraordinary what he did with all the students.”
“I just wanted to say that last night’s concert was nothing short of amazing! All of the children did a fantastic job and clearly, Mr. Martin had a nice manner with the children. So thank you for all of your hard work and for such a refreshing concert. We all loved it!
“What a wonderful experience for all! The transformation we saw in students whereby they worked smoothly as a unit, demonstrated respect and inclusion was fantastic! Thank you for introducing ball room dance to William Reid! May those skills continue to transfer throughout this school year 😊 Bravo!”
William Reid is the first CBE school to have a ballroom residency. We are hoping to continue with this program, as it has truly taught our students new skills as well as social graces.