Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Media: Nothing square about dancing for students

By Nika Megino | Daily Republic

SUISUN CITY - Six-year-olds Don Cisneros and Alexia Cardoso didn't let the rain dampen their dancing feet Tuesday.

The two Dan O. Root Elementary School students were paired together for physical education specialist Barbara Aiken's square dancing lesson.

'Now, this is the one!' yelled Don as the familiar music playing directed the children to circle to the right.

Students in two first-grade classes paired with one another as they practiced basic square dancing moves, including the promenade, do-si-do and swing.

Aiken has been teaching square dancing in her P.E. classes since she started working at Dan O. Root Elementary 18 years ago.

The rhythmic exercise finds its way into her lesson plans whenever the weather prohibits outdoor activity. This year's lesson has been going for three weeks.

'It's a good indoor activity. Their heart rate is up. We're constantly moving for 25 minutes,' Aiken said.

But there is more to the activity than the physical benefits, Aiken said.

'Square dancing is about socializing, and it's listening and following directions,' Aiken said. 'I think that is the heart of square dancing.'

Each student is asked to pick a partner of the opposite sex from another class. Each physical education period involves at least two classes.

Aiken said having the students pick their partners promotes interaction and boosts self-esteem. The students must listen to the directions called by Aiken or the music to master the art of square dancing.

The lessons are taught to all students in grades 1-6. The older students actually dance in a square, whereas younger students dance as a class in a large rectangle.

Don smiled and laughed as he clapped and stomped along with the music. He said the clap and stomp moves are his favorites.

'It's kind of fun,' Alexia said about the dance overall.

Don and Alexia said they also have fun interacting with schoolmates from different classes.

Mekhi Rojas, 6, and Abigail Meza, 7, said the directions are easy to follow.

Square dancing is a universal dance, said Aiken, who explained that the calls used in the United States are the same calls used in other countries such as China.

'It's a lifetime skill,' Aiken said.

Students at Dan O. Root Elementary will show off their skills and invite their parents to learn the dance at the school's Square Dancing Family Night. The event will be from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12 at Dan O. Root Elementary, 820 Harrier Drive.

Reach Nika Megino at 427-6953 or

No comments: