Passing on the love of ballroom dancing

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By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

There is an extensive ballroom dancing program in elementary schools in Utah County, but not in the Salt Lake area.

Anna Bay hopes to change that. As a ballroom teacher at Copper Hills High School and a mother, she uses her connections to spread the love of ballroom dancing.

She started by offering an after-school ballroom workshop at Falcon Ridge Elementary, where four of her children attend. The workshop, which runs from October to March, is open to students in grades 2 to 6. About forty students attend to learn the basic steps of ballroom dancing and have fun.

“They go crazy because they’re small,” Bay said. “We just roll with it. It probably sounds more chaotic than it is, but they learn so much through the chaos.

Bay uses popular children’s music to teach waltz, meringue, swing, and group line dancing.

“I try to find something that kids can relate to because when I don’t, they get a little more distracted,” Bay said. “If it’s something they can recognize, they stay more focused on the task.”

She said the extracurricular activity gives children the opportunity to belong. They also learn valuable skills.

“They think they’re just having fun dancing,” Bay said. But she said they also learn balance and memorization. It also includes snippets of information about the history and cultural origins of the dances.

Bay said ballroom dancing also teaches social skills — how to talk to others face to face, keep eye contact and how to ask someone to dance — skills that Bay feels the students haven’t been able to practice. for two years.

“I feel like they kind of had to relearn how to interact with people after COVID,” Bay said.

Members of the Copper Hills High ballroom dance team, which Bay coaches, help teach the workshop. Darci Glad, a senior member and member of the CHHS ballroom team, said she felt like a celebrity when she walked in and the kids rushed to give her a hug.

Glad says she enjoys working with young students as much as they enjoy working with her. As a dancer who focuses so much on precision and technique, she said it’s good for her to be around the kids.

“Being here just reminds me to have fun with it and help others find the fun,” Glad said.

Senior Lauren Heath is also a member of the CHHS ballroom dance team. She was first exposed to ballroom dancing while taking a social ballroom dancing class at Sunset Ridge Middle School. There, she saw the high school ballroom dance team perform.

“I thought they were just the coolest people in the world, and I really thought I wanted to do this,” Heath said. She now takes all the ballroom dancing classes she can at CHHS. She hopes to inspire a love of dance in the elementary school children she works with every week.

Elementary students will perform for their parents at Falcon Ridge Elementary on Thursday, March 10 at 6:30 p.m. They will perform in partner dances and group line dances.

Bay hopes to generate more interest in after-school ballroom programs at other local schools. She has already been approached to teach in other elementary schools and share her curriculum with other teachers. For more information, contact her at
[email protected]

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