Mount Kisco Elementary School Students Learn to Dance with Sol y Sombra
Mount Kisco Elementary School second graders spread out across the All-Purpose Room, their bodies moving to the music. Maria Loreta Celitan, Director of Sol y Sombra Spanish Dance Company, stood at the front, coaching them.
“We’re going to learn how to dance with our hands, something that we do in flamenco,” Celitan said. “That’s a dance form that comes from Spain. When we dance, we dance with our hands. They’re called flores.”
Celitan was finishing up a three-week residency at the school. She taught students a composite dance that touched on dance forms from a wide range of Hispanic cultures.
“Within the community, there are really different, unique cultures,” she said. “I learned to do this composite because it hits pretty much each of them.”
Celitan taught students flamenco, salsa, mambo, merengue, cha-cha and cumbia in her tour of Hispanic dance, using both English and Spanish to instruct the students, who are part of the school’s Dual Language Bilingual Education program.
After each new dance she taught, Celitan drew students’ attention back to their bodies.
“How did it feel to dance with your toes?” she asked.
After the class, she explained that dance requires a different kind of focus.
“It’s real body awareness and self-control,” she said. “You need to have the brain-neuron connection to all the various muscles very finely tuned to dance.”
Celitan also spoke about how dance can help students in other ways.
“Dancing teaches presentation,” she said. “There’s a confidence that you walk into the room with or gain by learning dance.”
The MKESA-sponsored enrichment program was a great way to explore other cultures while getting students up, moving and learning new skills — and maybe even discovering strengths they never realized they had.