CALEXICO — Young girls’ smiles were wide, arms graceful and steps careful as William Moreno Junior High’s new dance troupe practiced a routine this week in newly donated dance gear.
The fledgling dance troupe has 10 members ranging between seventh and eighth grade.
They were both surprised and excited to receive matching tank tops and skirts for performance as well as shirts to practice in this week from the nonprofit organization Save the Dance.
“I felt happy, because we didn’t have a wardrobe,” Sandra Karina Olmos, 12, said. “Now we have something to wear when we dance.”
Save the Dance is an organization “created to enhance the lives of students who strive to be the best they can be in dance,” according to the organization’s Web site.
“With the current economic difficulties, Save the Dance is working to help students in public schools have the opportunity for dance classes,” Save the Dance Executive Director and William Moreno dance troupe adviser Debi Buchanan said. “It’ll really help. Especially in this economy, it’s really hard, and we try to take the pressure off the parents.”
Dance troupe president Jazmin Clarissa Flores, 13, said she was very excited when she first heard about the school’s new dance troupe.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for me. I’ve been dancing ever since I could walk at 11 months,” Flores said.
While she was nervous to audition, Flores felt the benefits of dancing outweighed the fear.
“Besides giving you physical exercise, I think it’s fun and something anyone can do,” she added. “Dance programs should be in school. It can help you concentrate more in school, especially in math.”
Dance has also had a positive effect on 12-year-old Erica Cardinale-Lopez.
“It helps your self-confidence and it makes you feel better as you get used to it,” she said. “It’s really fun.”
The girls practice two to three times a week and are exploring various styles of dance including jazz, hip-hop and ballet.
A room that was being used for storage at the school was cleaned, painted and tall mirrors were installed by the physical education department earlier this year for the group to use.
Buchanan said she’d like the dance troupe to begin giving performances later this year as well as take field trips to San Diego to see a live dance performance which some girls in the troupe have never seen before.
Calexico Unified School District Superintendent Richard Fragale said Buchanan’s initiative and the donated supplies are imperative in a time of economic difficulty for the district.
“Without them, we probably wouldn’t be able to have the program,” he said. “Whenever you have any group willing to take something on in adopting a particular group, it’s wonderful, and I can’t say enough about appreciating what they’re doing.”
He visited one of the dance troupe’s practices this week and said it’s easy to see the students’ joy while dancing.
“We want to keep the thing moving and seeing the smiling faces, we’re going to do all we can to help and support them,” he said.
Visit www.savethedance.org for more information about the nonprofit.
Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or email@example.com