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MSD's Spanish Club welcomes its first Year of Dance lessons

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s Spanish Club works for the conservation of the Spanish language by celebrating diversity and bringing the community closer together. This year, the Spanish club had the initiative to create dance classes for students who want to learn the different genres of dance that are prominent within the Hispanic culture. Each day, a different member from the club runs each of the dance lessons.

The year of 2020-21 was the first year that Spanish Club has done virtual dance lessons.

“We decided to do them because we wanted to find a way to interact with the members, do something fun, and stay safe with COVID,” Spanish Club’s Multicultural Assistant, Anabela Chico, said.

The club sent out Remind messages and social media posts to spread the word about the lessons. And in order to stay safe with COVID, classes were held through Zoom meetings. The meetings were set to be at 5:00pm every day for a week from Feb. 1st until Feb. 5.

On Feb. 1, Spanish Club held Salsa lessons. Not to be confused with the sauce, Salsa contains certain movements including the hips, shoulders and arms. Spanish Club secretary, Barbara Moreno, taught this first class.

“In my opinion, salsa is a more difficult dance to learn compared to the other hispanic dances because it involves a lot of movements and rhythm, using every single part of your body to convey the energy dancing salsa needs,” Moreno said.

Moreno taught members how to obtain the proper coordination and attitude for this dance by practicing the moves several times.

“I first demonstrated the steps, then practiced them with the rest of the group until I felt they could move forward to learn more advanced steps,” Moreno said.

On Feb. 2, Bachata lessons were taught by Marialis Diaz and Amanda Aponte. Like Salsa, Bachata includes various hip movements and the lower body is used more than the upper body. Bachata is a very romantic dance that is centered around feeling the music. Using your hips and moving your arms slowly in a very casual way is what drives the dance forward.

When it comes to making sure everyone was doing the steps properly, Diaz says that learning and teaching the dance online was difficult.

“My partner Amanda and I did our best to make sure everyone was following along and were actually learning,” Diaz said. “But regardless of the difficulties, they were able to bring a good time to those who were on the other side of the screen.”

Feb. 3 was reserved for Merengue. Merengue is a style of dance that has short and precise movements. Isabella Benjumea, the Spanish Club’s President, taught members how to dance Merengue by teaching them the most basic steps and putting on fun music for members to enjoy. It is a dance that requires a lot of hip movement as well, but unlike salsa and bachata, the hips are the main character in this style of dance. In order for it to stand out and look good, the hips and the attitude have to be the center of attention.

“It was really fun to enjoy the music and get a little sweat out of this class. I tried to make it as enjoyable as possible because I know not being in person is hard, but we have to make the most out of this situation,” Benjumea said.

Benjumea also taught Reggaeton to students on Feb. 4. Reggeaton has Latin and Jamaican influences and is very similar to hip hop. Teaching it online was a challenge since the steps are difficult to show through a camera and making sure everyone was understanding the moves was not an easy task. However, she managed to teach a complete choreography in a matter of 40 minutes to an hour. She used one of the most popular songs from the famous singer Bad Bunny, “Safaera”, and taught a choreography full of style, swag and sassiness where members could get loose and learn something unique.

Each instructor created a piece of a choreography that was original, yet simple for those who have never danced that style before. The goal of this activity was to unite members across the school during this difficult time for the world to show them that it is possible to still have fun and learn about new cultures even if it is through a computer screen. Dancing is a huge part of the hispanic lifestyle and the Spanish Club wanted to welcome everyone into this new year by showing off some of their most precious traditions.

Having a good time and portraying the most popular dance styles of the Latin world were the biggest objectives of this activity, and this was definitely accomplished.

The club is a great way to learn about Spanish culture, make friends and have fun. All are welcome to come and enjoy the club, speaking Spanish is not a requirement to join at all, and maybe even incorporate a new practice into daily life.

Credits:

Created with an image by Victoria_Borodinova - "woman flamenco dancer"