Photograph Courtesy of Linda Carr
On April 13, 2018, Berkeley High School (BHS) hosted Dance Day. Fifth graders from multiple elementary schools, including Cragmont, Washington, and John Muir, came to BHS to learn and watch dance. The event took place in the Afro-Haitian dance room and was hosted by Naomi Washington Diouf and Linda Carr. The children learned dance from high school dancers who taught them a variety of dance types including hip hop, African, and step.
“Fifth graders were paired up with a BHS student as their Dance Buddy for the day — they ate pizza together and had a chance to tour a bit of the BHS campus,” said Carr. During second and third period, the fifth graders were divided into small groups to learn dance from members of Dance Production and the Afro-Haitian program. “One of the unexpected pleasures for me personally was seeing my own students teach classes to the fifth graders,” said Carr. BHS senior and dance student Kendra Bowman taught step at Dance Day.
“It was really cool because they were all really good at it and caught on quickly,” she said. “They just had fun with it.” In fourth period, the fifth graders proceeded to perform their many dances for their audience consisting of Afro-Haitian students, their own peers, and Dance Production. After that, they watched the Afro-Haitian dancers perform a piece they are preparing for their spring show on May 18, as well as a piece that Dance Production is preparing for their shows on June 1 and 2.
The event brought together an unlikely group of people and allowed a wonderful connection to be made. Dancing together was a great learning experience for both the high school and elementary students, because the high schoolers became leaders and fifth graders gained new skills. The room was filled with the shouting of praise, laughter and smiles all around at the end of the day. Carr felt the event was a success, “Dance Day was a total hit! I’m so glad we did it.”