Dance club offers students a fitness option

Posted May 10, 2010 7:51 a.m. EDT

Students at Washington GT Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh get their physical education in an unusual way. They are part of the Ballroom Dancing Club.

The dancers, and clubs for jumping rope and running, are funded by a $30,000, three-year grant from the John Rex Endowment.

The students find dancing a fun way to keep fit. "It makes your heart rate go up," fifth grader Amaya Lynn said.

Melanie Dale, owner of a local dance studio, and phys ed teacher Lynn Bitting work together on the program.

Dale leads the 16 students through the steps for foxtrot, salsa, merengue, swing, waltz and cha-cha.

"I want (the) children to enjoy movement exercise as part of being healthy," Bitting said.

After three successful years of dance, the money for the program runs out in June. Bitting said she is looking into other grants to fund future classes of budding dancers.

"They've just blossomed ... pulling their heads up and smiling, and when they make a mistake they don't let it stop them, they just keep right on going," she said.

The dancers will perform in front of their parents Sunday, May 16, on at A Step to Gold Ballroom in Raleigh.