With the guidance of Kevin Rainey of the Phyllis Rose Dance Company, fourth- and fifth-graders at Valley Stream District 30’s Forest Road School recently celebrated Black History Month by learning about African dance. Each class worked with Rainey during the course of a week to learn a particular cultural dance and showcased their skills in a culminating performance at the end of the week for family members and students.
Rainey has been dancing since he was a child, even performing on Broadway for 17 years. He visited the school for the first time last year with the dance program to teach students dances in honor of Black History Month. The students and staff welcomed Rainey back with open arms as he worked on dances such as a ceremonial dance from West Africa, a dance inspired by Ella Fitzgerald, the traditional cuckoo dance and the Lindy Hop and Swing.
At the start of the culminating performance, Principal Erin Malone introduced Rainey to the audience and explained the importance of Black History Month.
“Black History Month is so important because it helps us to understand the contributions of a particular group of people that have often been under looked and undervalued,” said Principal Malone. “At its essential core, it helps us to understand that we are all one and we have to act that way and treat people that way.”
Each class donned different outfits to highlight their cultural dance and performed their routines on the school stage. Rainey incorporated the audience into the show after the student performances by inviting staff members onto the stage where he taught them, students and family members how to do a dance called, “The Moon Dance.”