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Fifth-graders give program last dance

Posted: March 6, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: March 6, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Mint Canyon Community School’s fifth-graders recently celebrated the culmination of their dance program by performing for parents and peers.

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Mint Canyon Community School’s fifth-graders recently celebrated the culmination of their 12-week residency with the Lula Washington Dance Theatre by performing in front of their parents and peers.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, students participated in a one-hour lesson taught by the organization’s founder and choreographer, Lula Washington, an internationally known dancer whose group has performed all over the world. Over the 12-week period, students were exposed to a multitude of dance forms, from ballet to tap to modern dance.

Two times each week, fifth-graders were greeted by Washington and a member of her dance company, who served as her assistant.

There, they began with warm-up activities before moving on to learning choreography based on the dance genre of the day. Over the course of the residency, students learned a variety of dance steps while developing stamina, focus and cooperation.

Fifth-grader Damrius Johnson said, “I like Lula Dance because we get to move around and get active and also move freely. My favorite type of dance is modern.”

Provided to the school through a grant from the California Arts Council and the K-12 Arts Education Outreach Program of the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons, the residency is dedicated to bringing quality arts education to the schools throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.

The PAC K-12 Arts Education Program has worked closely with Lula Washington and Lula Washington Dance Theatre over the past three years to create this program, not just for the fifth-grade students at Mint Canyon, but for students in each of the school districts of the Santa Clarita Valley.

Fifth-grade teacher Naz LaPlant was impressed with the program and the degree to which her students participated.

“The Lula Washington Dance experience has been extremely beneficial to the fifth-graders at Mint Canyon Community School,” she said. “The program has provided an experience for children who might not have had the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities such as dance. Lula has provided structure and discipline that carries over into the classroom setting. Students have learned to take risks by trying new things as they have been introduced to new dance genres and routines. It has been extremely rewarding to see students who might not excel in the classroom, have an opportunity to shine.”

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