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Quaker Ridge Kids Dance Into the Spotlight

SCARSDALE, N.Y. – Ballroom dance fever swept through Quaker Ridge Elementary School on Thursday when the fifth-grade classes presented two performances to put their new-found skills on display.

Couple after couple merengued down the aisles of the auditorium – the boys in white shirts and ties, the girls in dresses – and tangoed across the stage, first in a morning assembly for the rest of the school, then in an evening performance for family and friends.

The Ballroom Blitz program comprises 10 weeks of twice-a-week sessions taught by Nancy Zander, teaching artist for Westchester County. This was Zander's first Scarsdale assignment, and she said she was impressed.

"It's amazing. They are so in love with this program," she said of the children and teachers at Quaker Ridge. "We got incredible support from the PTA."

Zander said the program starts with typical resistance and apprehension from the pupils, many of whom are touch-dancing with the opposite gender for the first time. But it doesn't take long, she said, before they are fully on board.

"We make it fun," she said. "They learn the merengue in the first class," and the accomplishment leads to excitement and anticipation for the rest of the program.

The performances Thursday included each fifth-grade class executing two styles of dance – swing, waltz, foxtrot, rumba, tango and polka. For each class, the dances were introduced by readers and first demonstrated by a solo couple before the entire group performed.

The program ended with all classes taking the stage for the stomp and the Macarena.

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