TAMPA – The children in the folk dancing classes at Westchase Elementary School love to dance.
It is the hand holding, however, that they aren’t too crazy about.
Westchase, 9517 W. Linebaugh Ave., is hosting a night of folk dancing from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 27 that will include parents, teachers and anyone else who wants to have a good time on the dance floor. It’s been a huge success for the past 10 years at Westchase and is led by teachers Nancy Lewis and John King.
Lewis and King have put on such a show, along with the more than 40 classes they teach each week at Westchase, that they are now teaching workshops throughout Hillsborough County.
The students are getting used to different music as they promenade and do-si-do around the campus listening to tunes that sound like something out of Walt Disney World’s Liberty Square. King and Lewis participate with the children while shouting out instructions, sometimes singing along with the music.
And while they might not like holding hands, the first-graders who were preparing for the dance laughed and danced along for a half-hour during a recent chilly morning. The students line up boy-girl but that doesn’t last very long since partners switch every few moments.
Two of the first-grade boys, Youssef Mribiha and Tony Serra, said they didn’t mind holding hands with the girls. In fact, they both smiled when asked.
Two of the girls, Ella Sennet and Nolie Le, had other thoughts.
“It’s gross,” Ella said. “I don’t want to hold hands.”
She was laughing when she said that as Youssef and Tony looked on, giggling.
Nolie just shook her head.
“They sweat and I don’t like it, but it’s fun.”
As the practice continued, it was hard to tell that any of the kids were unhappy. King said that, at first, all he was trying to do was to get the students to form a straight line, then a circle. With a week to go before their performance, the kids have learned to do much more than that.
There are three first-grade classes, alone, that take the lessons twice a week. All grades, from first through fifth, will be participating. The first-graders are just learning, but the fifth-graders know what they are doing.
“These kids are good,” King said. “It’s fun to expose them to this kind of music and dance. The parents look forward to it every year.”