Baltimore Sun

Westowne students perform black American culture dances

The culmination of several months work will be on display Friday when 19 students at Westowne Elementary School take the stage for 75-minute performance scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

Catonsville Middle school sixth-graders Ryan Ritzes and Luke Pound, both Westowne graduates, will emcee the series of dances the students have been practicing since February.


The after-school sessions, designed to teach the history of blacks in America through music, were led by Liz Getsinger, a fifth-grade teacher at the school, and Liz Brill, who teaches fourth-graders at the Baltimore County elementary school.

Getsinger started the after-school club this year after coaching the school's Black Saga Competition team.


The annual Black Saga Competition challenges students to learn about the experience and accomplishments of blacks in America from before 1492 to the present.

While Getsinger's teams succeeded in the competition, the extra studying had made the education more of a grueling experience. To add more fun to learning, she decided to teach black history through music and dance.

Friday's series of 11 songs will begin with "Hoe Emma Hoe," a slaves' work song from the 1800s.

The finale will be a performance by Jack Morgan, the lone third-grade participant, of Michael Jackson's "Thriller."

Jack's sister, Samantha, a Westowne graduate now at Catonsville High School and a talented dancer, according to Getsinger, will also perform during the song.

Other songs during the performance include:

"Kind Hearted Woman Blues" — recorded 1936 by the legendary Robert Johnson

"Heartbreak Hotel" — recorded 1956 by Elvis Presley


"Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" — recorded 1957 by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong

"Night Time is the Right Time" — recorded 1958 by Ray Charles

"Where Did Our Love Go" — recorded 1964 by The Supremes

"Stone Free" — recorded 1966 by Jimi Hendrix

"Respect" —recorded 1967 by Aretha Franklin

"U Can't Touch This" — recorded 1990 by M.C. Hammer


"Gettin Jiggy Wit It" — recorded 1998 by Will Smith