David Douglas dancers wow the crowd with fancy footwork

See why all of these DDHS students were moving and grooving to that funky boogie beat before hundreds of cheering fans …

David Douglas High School dance teacher, Lynette Velasquez, welcomes the crowd to this semester’s dance recital. Behind Velasquez is her husband, Dan, serving as the evening’s deejay.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Hundreds of family members, friends and students lined the bleachers at David Douglas High School’s south gym, waiting for the latest end-of-the-semester dance recital – entitled “Takin’ It Back to the Old School“, as it was about to get underway on January 14.

“In addition to being a fun show,” Lynette Velasquez, the DDHS dance teacher, told us before the show, “this program is also theifinal exam for the dance class students. It is a good opportunity for the kids to perform, and show their parents, friends and family what they’ve learned.”

The “Tams Alumni Dancers” perform as the warm-up act at the program.

Performing “September” in front of the large audience are student dancers Katryna Dellsite, Cassie Hamann, and Morgan Williams (but perhaps not in this order).

188 students are involved in the program, Velasquez said – adding that she feels that studying dance enhances their educational experience.

“The arts are integral to a good liberal arts education,” the teacher opined. “It gives kids the self confidence that so many are often lacking. It gives them the ability to stand up in front of a group of people and present themselves.”

Whooping it up to “Space Jam” is this large group of dancers, led by teaching assistants Myriah (last name deleted by request) and Tarissa Maxwell.

In addition to helping young people appreciate more dimensions of school than simply book learning, Velasquez added that dance is good physical and mental exercise. “Dance uses mathematical concepts; all dance numbers are built on mathematical principles. We also use geometry; talking about parallelograms angles and other geometric shapes.”

As we watched the performances, we agree with Velasquez’ final comment: “Dance brings together the head and the body, and helps make a complete student.”

In his solo performance of “Make it Work”, student dancer Joe Zhao gets the crowd going with his robotic, animated style of boogie.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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