Published on November 10th, 2014 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


District Five students get lessons in ballroom dancing

Pictured above, Vista Ballroom owner Erin Bolshakov walks students at Irmo High School through an Argentine folk dance as part of a two-week ballroom dance residency. 

IRMO – It’s not uncommon to see students in Gabrielle Tull’s dance classes practicing their pirouettes to jazz or contemporary routines – even a little hip hop. But lately the lessons in the Irmo High School dance courses have looked a little different.

“We just completed a ballroom dance residency,” Tull said. “At first the students were very apprehensive about learning this style, but after a few days they started to really enjoy it. We just wanted a way to introduce the students to new styles of dance and expand their dance repertoire, which makes them better dancers no matter what style they choose.”

The two-week fall ballroom dance residency for students at Irmo High School was part of enhanced offerings at the arts magnet school. Vista Ballroom owner Erin Bolshakov visited the school in October, instructing the students in ballroom and latin dances including salsa and Argentine tango. She also set choreography for the International Baccalaureate and dance team students for the school’s performance season.

“The students were exposed to a lot in two weeks,” Bolshakov said. “It’s important for them to have body awareness and be able to change themselves as dancers. So just because you specialize in one dance style, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to adapt…as audience members and as dancers, now they have an appreciation and understanding of a new dance form.”

Students like Ramell Thompson, a senior IB dance student, said he learned valuable lessons from the ballroom residency.  “It’s not my favorite style, but it’s good to learn something new,” he said. “Dance is more than just hip hop, ballet and contemporary. It’s about all types of dance…I also want to go to college for dance, so what I learned here can definitely help me in the future. ”

Officially launched this fall, the Irmo International High School for the Arts offers rigorous, standards-based curriculum that challenges students intellectually and creatively through arts-infused learning embedded in a global approach. The arts magnet program is funded in part by a recently awarded Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) federal grant, which Lexington-Richland District Five schools received in 2013. Some of the courses added at Irmo High School through the magnet program include: world percussion, world dance, public art, guitar, piano and acting for television and film. New supplies, music master classes and dance clinics have also been implemented.

“The arts magnet is alive and thriving at Irmo High School,” said Principal David Riegel. “Part of our goal with the arts magnet is for students to get professional training and to get classes with people working in the arts profession. These residencies are exactly the type of enhanced experiences we are actively seeking and able to offer through the magnet programs, and we look forward to more of these types of programs for our students.”



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