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Volume 24, Number 9 — September 2017

Dancing helps children with confidence and poise

Minnich Oakley (sixth grade at Vance Middle School) and Colton Ratcliffe (seventh grade at Virginia Middle School) demonstrate their dance skills.
Minnich Oakley (sixth grade at Vance Middle School) and Colton Ratcliffe (seventh grade at Virginia Middle School) demonstrate their dance skills.

By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | January 01, 2014

While many people don't learn to ballroom dance until they take it for a college credit or until they're older and want a chance to socialize, cotillion students learn beginning in middle school.

Cotillion is social etiquette/manner classes and ballroom dancing for school age children grades Pre-K-12th grade. Students enrolled in Junior Cotillion (middle school) and High School Cotillion Club learn ballroom dancing as part of their curriculum. They are taught the foxtrot, waltz, shag, cha-cha, salsa and line dances.

"Cotillion teaches invaluable life skills. In learning social graces and ballroom dancing, confidence is gained," Kacey Buchanan, says. "Every parent wants his/her child to be confident and respectful."

Buchanan was enrolled in cotillion, under director Ann Woods, when she was in high school. In 2007, she became the dance director under the direction of Woods, and five years later she purchased the program from Woods.

"In learning to ballroom dance students learn the obvious: rhythm, dance steps and poise," Buchanan says. "An invaluable life lesson the students attain is being exposed to something that makes them uncomfortable (ballroom dancing). By learning the proper skills, it becomes more and more comfortable. Throughout life, occasions and opportunities arise that involve dance. By learning to ballroom dance at an early age children will forever take part in activities and social situations they would have otherwise avoided."

She says that first-time students usually dread the ballroom portion of the class, but as the season progresses and they build on their skills from previous classes, their confidence grows and so does their desire and enjoyment of ballroom dance. "If you were to ask any student who has attended two or more years, they would tell you their favorite part of the class is ballroom dancing," Buchanan says.

Her students' interest in ballroom dancing has only increased with the prevalence of shows such as "Dancing with the Stars."

"Ballroom dancing no longer seems so antiquated and old fashioned. The exposure the show has given ballroom dancing has been a visible benefit to my program definitely," she says. Buchanan can be reached at kaceywilson1@hotmail.com.

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