Learning rhythms, beats, steps, and choreography isn’t just work for celebrity guests on Dancing with the Stars, students at Western Wayne High School have a yearly tradition of learning Spanish dancing as a part of their curriculum each fall.
Local dance instructor and studio owner Vince Brust works with the Western Wayne students to teach a variety of traditional Spanish dances such as tango, merengue, mambo, and salsa among others.
The students had a few weeks of sessions with Mr. Brust before debuting their new dance skills for other students during the day on Friday, Oct. 12, in Western Wayne’s newly renovated high school auditorium.
Students performed a variety of the dances they learned for their classmates. They did a choreographed dance with multiple partners and a cha-cha among other numbers during the day as a practice session for an evening performance. The Spanish students also gave the night performance on Monday, Oct. 15, for their friends, family, and members of the community.
Junior Kendra Oliver had the special responsibility of not only dancing in the performances but also choreographing a cha-cha for the show.
“I was able to use the steps I learned last year to choreograph the dance,” Kendra explained. “It was easy to teach it to the students who could pick up dance quickly.”
Kendra’s classmate and friend Sinaea Buford, junior, enjoyed seeing all of the dances at the in-school show including Kendra’s.
“I enjoy performing the dances, but I like to watch it more,” Sinaea explained. “I like seeing students dance that are passionate about it.”
Sinaea aspires to be an interpreter for the FBI one day and hopes to travel to other countries to experience their cultures.
Sinaea’s classmate junior Nick Gombita was hesitant at first to try Spanish dancing. However, once Nick really got involved in the program he very much grew to enjoy the process.
“I have been doing Spanish dancing at school for three years now,” Nick said. “At first, I was worried about messing up the steps, but now I know that doesn’t matter. I enjoy learning the dances.”
One skill the students learn from taking part in the Spanish dancing is how to work together as a team.
Senior Alexis Fawcett and junior Austin Devine did most of the dances together this year in their classes and for the performances.
“One of my favorite dances was the merengue,” Alexis, who plans to attend cosmetology school next year, explained. “It was so fun moving in it and always doing something different.”
Austin agrees that the merengue was a fun dance and explained one of the partner moves he liked best.
“I liked learning how to do the cuddle hold,” he said. “It was complicated at first, but once we practiced it with the music it got easier.”
All of the students agreed that one of the best parts of the night performance was when the audience was asked to come on stage to dance with the students. The audience was invited up twice once to dance a three- person dance and later in the show to learn a line dance.
Both Alexis and Austin were able to dance with their siblings during this portion of the show.
“It was fun to show the moves to my younger sisters,” Austin, who wished to study radiology in the future, explained. “I liked getting to educate them about dance more.”
All of the students look forward to working with Brust again next year to learn more Spanish dancing, and seniors like Alexis plan to come back to Western Wayne to support their fellow classmates in their future performances.