Home News Local News Pecos Elementary students razzle-dazzle ‘em

Pecos Elementary students razzle-dazzle ‘em

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The jazzy blues take on some expressive action Friday as Pecos Elementary students and teachers rehearse Friday for their “Roots Revival” performances at Pueblo Auditorium, staged after a couple of weeks of training with National Dance Institute of New Mexico instructors. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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A stage filled with jumping and skipping kids, some dressed as cows and some as crawfish and others as cacti, chefs and masked Mardi Gras dancers, filled Pueblo Auditorium Friday as Pecos Elementary School students prepared to give two performances.

The students, as well as some of their teachers, had been training for two weeks with visiting instructors from the National Dance Institute of New Mexico based in Santa Fe.

After learning to listen to the music, dance their steps and follow stage directions, kindergarteners and third, fourth and fifth graders were ready to entertain their audiences, with a 1 p.m. performance for local school students and a 6 p.m. showing for parents and the community.

The “Roots Revival” also threw in some music history lessons as well. A recorded narrative accompanying some of the music explained the early origins of the state’s music and dance traditions, including African, Mexican, Tejano and Native American influences.

The National Dance Institute training comes each year to Pecos Elementary, introduced to the school in 2004 by principal Barbara Ryan, who had learned about NDI’s work at a previous school.

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“This school loved music and the arts, so this was a perfect fit,” she said, explaining that the training is sponsored by local nonprofits.

She said teachers and students alike appreciate the opportunity for kids to learn and demonstrate skills and abilities that aren’t normally a part of elementary curriculum.

The National Dance Institute was started in New York City by famed dance director Jacques d’Amboise as a way to expose public school students to the world of dance. It was brought to New Mexico in 1994 by ballet dancer Catherine Oppenheimer.

“It is really neat that some of the kids who are having the hardest time in class,” said kindergarten teacher Kimberley Perez, “are some of the ones who shine at this.”

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.