Local News

Students learn manners, moves in ballroom dancing club

Posted March 26, 2009 7:39 a.m. EDT
Updated March 26, 2009 11:06 a.m. EDT

— Washington Elementary School fifth-grader Braxton Payton has learned that if he wants a girl to dance with him, he must be polite.

“(I try) having good manners, asking (girls), ‘Can you please dance with me?’” he said.

Braxton, 11, is one of about 60 students who belong to the school’s dance club. Teachers said they use the after-school club as a way to teach the students about exercise, etiquette and encouragement.

“It’s another form of exercise,” said physical education teacher Lynn Bitting. “We do bowling, tennis, lots of different sports, but I thought dancing would be something different for the children.”

Fourth-grader Young Min Shin, 10, has already found her favorite dance – the salsa.

“It’s very fast-paced and has four different variations that you can twist up a little and add some chili sauce,” she said. “I really enjoy dancing with friends, and I also learned some cooperation and respect with boys.”

The students meet after school once a week. A professional ballroom dance teacher leads the club along with volunteer teachers.

“We don’t let them run free. The teachers are instructed to put them together (and) not let them make decisions on who they’re going to dance with,” said Melanie Dale, a ballroom dance instructor.

The John Rex Endowment provided a grant to fund the program, which runs out next year. Bitting said she hopes to get enough funding to expand the program throughout Wake County schools. She said she wants the students to be able to compete like students do in New York City public schools.