Second-grade students learn art of African dance through Youth Arts

By Dwight Collins | Apr 17, 2014
Photo by: Dwight Collins Second-grade students at Camden-Rockport Elementary School participate in an African dance residency through Youth Arts April 11.

Rockport — Setting the scene on the Serengeti, second-grade students from Camden-Rockport Elementary School donned hand-made animal masks and performed native African dances through a residency sponsored by Youth Arts April 11.

African dance instructor Denyse Robinson and drummer Jeff Densmore worked with the children over the course of a few weeks choreographing dances to traditional African music.

The students also created masks to represent the animals that are found in Africa and performed a short musical skit showing them in their natural habitat. After that, students took off the masks and performed the dances and songs they had practiced in front of friends and family.

Gazelles, elephants, lions, leopards, zebras and giraffes all made their way to the watering hole in the center of the stage for a brief drink before striking out among the crowed to search for food and keep a watchful eye out for natural enemies. Then they returned to rest with their given pride, herd, tower or prowl.

Robinson praised the students on how quickly they picked up the dance routines and their ability to learn some very complex steps. She said performing a number of movements all at the same time takes quite a bit of skill and focus and the second grade students had done a remarkable job.

Teachers were singing and dancing along with the students, showing support and encouragement.

“It is amazing what these kids did in such a short period of time,” said second-grade teacher Polly Gibson, “They truly did a wonderful job and we are very proud of them.”

Youth Arts is a private, volunteer driven, nonprofit organization. It has been providing arts enrichment to area schools in Camden, Rockport, Hope, Appleton and Lincolnville for more than 40 years through art residencies, workshops and performances.

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Dwight Collins
Dwight Collins is a reporter/photographer for The Camden Herald.
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