12/18/05 — Dancing, physical education combined

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Dancing, physical education combined

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 18, 2005 2:07 AM

Grace Delbridge, Elizabeth Amon and Stephanie Smith have taken jazz, tap and ballet lessons for years.

The fifth graders also dance throughout the school year during their physical education class at Eastern Wayne Elementary School.

Students at the school learn a variety of dances, including square dance, folk dance, popular line dances, and the state dance, the shag, said Terry Butler, physical education specialist at the school.

It exposes students to music and dance while keeping them active in a fun way, she said.

"Current research supports the concept of dance instruction and the arts in schools," she said. "Dance, rhythm and movement education are said to stimulate the brain and enhances academic performance along with testing skills."

Dancing also helps children express their feelings and understand their bodies' potential, she said. And it is an activity they can do throughout the rest of their lives.

"It's fun," Grace said.

"It gets your heart rate going," Elizabeth added. "It's easy to learn the steps because we did this a lot in kindergarten."

The classmates admitted they sometimes have to count steps and said that learning to dance in a crowd sometimes means bumping into other people.

"Even though it's easy, you have to keep up with what your feet are doing," Elizabeth said, adding that she had even made up her own steps in the shower recently. "I practice in front of the mirror all the time."

Some of the dances learned during the year will be performed for a broader audience, Mrs. Butler said. Select students will perform at the school's Christmas music concert and PTA program, a well as the spring concert at the end of the school year.