- Jackson Park Elementary School
Ballroom Dancing Champs - AGAIN!
On May 7, a team of dancers from Barbara C. Jordan Elementary took first place at the annual St. Louis Dancing Classrooms Colors of the Rainbow Team Match Championship for Ballroom Dancing at the Scottish Rite Auditorium. The dancers competed against students from eight other schools around the region for the title.
It all began Last fall when the entire fifth grade at BCJ began working with St Louis Dancing Classrooms for a 10-week training program to learn a variety of ballroom dances. Students then hosted a school-wide assembly to showcase their skills in mid-November prior to a December Semi-Final competition against other local fifth-grades from the St. Louis area, hosted by Bayless High School.
According to BCJ fifth-grade teacher Nancy Luebbers, who spearheaded the student dance team, the class not only teaches students the fundamentals of ballroom dancing, but it helps build character. It shows students how to work as a team(in both partnerships and as a whole group. They learn to show respect to others whose abilities are different than their own.
“The dancing gives students self-respect and self-worth that we cannot teach in the classroom,” she added. “Students, who may not shine every day academically, get a chance to shine in other ways through the dancing classes.”
“We have six couples...so 12 students,” she said. “Everyone attends the field trip in December and everyone shows off their dancing skills by dancing socially with students from other schools, but then the competition starts and only the competition team is scored on their dances.”
This year’s competing ballroom dance team consisted of Merengue dancers Thomas Parnell and Taylor Wayne, Foxtrot dancers Rozier Burks and Kailey Ford, Rumba dancers Devin Davis (replaced by Casey Beard during finals) and Takierah Johnson, Tango dancers Marvin Johnson and Jamir Henderson, and Swing dancers Jamal Holland and Akira Robinson. The team was lead by captains Casey Beard and Nydia Woods.
“We select our competition team based on students who show good character and are polite towards each other, enthusiastic about the class, and have the qualities of the dance,” Luebbers added. “The students who are not selected for the competition team are showcased at the assembly. The kids love it.”
The BCJ fifth-grade ballroom dancing tradition began in 2013 in partnership with COCA. In 2014, they partnered with St. Louis Dancing Classrooms and earned third place in their first competition, then won first place the following two years. After taking the 2017-18 school year off due to a scheduling conflict, the BCJ team indeed earned first place in the gold level on December 11, 2018, at Bayless High School, qualifying them to move into the finals in May where they claimed first place - again!
“They did an amazing job,” Luebbers said.