“Olé!” Carol McElroy’s second grade class shouts in unison as they finish their flamenco routine at North Park Elementary School.
The flamenco dance was the culmination of an eight week partnership between the school and the PAC (Performing Arts Center) K-12 Arts Education Outreach program.
“I hope that being exposed to this cultural experience will open up some part in their mind and spirit that will propel them somewhere spectacular,” said Linda Andrade, teaching artist for PAC K-12 Arts Education Outreach program.
With 38 years of experience as a flamenco dancer, Andrade taught the students popular flamenco moves and terms like “taconeco” for heelwork and “palmas” for rhythmic hand claps.
Students performed in three groups as they moved their hips, clapped their hands, stomped their feet and shouted Olé.
“We’re basically just inviting you into our classroom to show you what we’ve been working on,” Andrade said to the audience of parts and siblings.
The second graders acted as art historians, sharing the history of a painting and recreating the scene in front of the crowd.
When they returned to their normal positions, they moved slowly to demonstrate “duende” or all parts coming together and having a heightened state of emotion.
“Duende is a moment that no one can really explain,” Andrade said. “You have to put all of your heart and soul into it.”
The students also used their imagination to freestyle a dance to a poem by Federico Garcia Lorca about nature and olive branches.
“The student have learned to trust the pictures that go on in their minds and learn to trust their thoughts and the images in their minds,” Andrade said.
At the end of the performance, students had the chance to perform a spotlight dance and share their favorite flamenco moves in the middle of a semi-circle.
Andrade and McElroy performed their own small routine in the circle, and a few parents joined in on the fun as well.
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