F.E. Bellows Students Experience Cultures Through Dance

F.E. Bellows Students Experience Cultures Through Dance photo

Third- through fifth-grade students at F.E. Bellows Elementary School are using the power of dance and movement to tell stories and gain a deeper appreciation for the Chinese and Indian cultures.

As part of a 10-week multicultural appreciation and enrichment program, they’ve welcomed two dance companies to their school – the Ajna Dance Company, renowned for preserving and performing traditional Indian dance forms, and the New York Chinese Cultural Center, which focuses on Chinese dance forms. A total of 120 students are experiencing free dance lessons during their lunch periods in March, April and May. 

“Cultural dance movement has symbolic meaning which increases students’ connections to the myths and aesthetics that make each nationality unique,” said Dr. Valerie Feit, K-12 enrichment coordinator and co-director of counseling and guidance. “As part of our innovative Seekers and Solvers program, Dance Parade brings social studies content to life.”

Feit added that the dance lessons encourage students to be physically active, while providing them with complex cultural expressions. Feit coordinated the visit along with F.E. Bellows Principal Michael Scarantino. 

Fourth-grader Grayson Findlay, who recently experienced the Bharatanatyam, a classical Indian dance form, said she enjoyed learning all the hand movements. 

“It’s really fun to learn different cultures’ music and dancing,” Findlay said. “I love dancing and it’s fun.” 

Parents are invited to join the upcoming dance classes, which will take place during lunch hours on March 19 and 26, as well as on April 9, 16, 23 and 30, and May 7 and 14. The classes culminate in an invitation for students to participate in the 12th annual Dance Parade NYC and Festival on May 19, along with the teaching artists. Dance Parade NYC, which takes place annually in New York City, features 10,000 dancers who perform traditional and contemporary dance genres. Last year, 30 F.E. Bellows Elementary School students and parents joined the Mazarte Dance Company during the parade. 

Students and parents, whether involved in the dance classes or not, are welcome to participate in Dance Parade NYC. A parent information meeting will be held in the F.E. Bellows Elementary School library on April 9 at 6:30 p.m. 

For more information about Dance Parade NYC, visit www.danceparade.org. Any questions, contact Dr. Valerie Feit at vfeit@ryeneck.org