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Dancing craze: Students move feet for self-belief
Thursday – Woodson Elementary School.
April 11 – Olive View Elementary School.
May 9 – West Street Elementary School.
(check with each school to confirm dates)
The preteen years are an awkward age for children, but never more so as when dancing in front of their peers.
And that is exactly what Rojelio Viramontez of Royal King Dance Academy asked of Woodson Elementary School sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students to do on Thursday.
No matter their shyness, hesitancy or fear, Viramontez had every student on their feet, raising their hands in the air, and moving to the music's beat as he taught them "to believe in themselves with no limits."
Viramontez is a diversity and motivational specialist who uses music and dance to teach his message.
Here in Corning, the 42-year-old dancer began his motivating movement at Maywood Middle School in January, where he spent two weeks teaching the students about life, mingling his message with dance steps. The students then performed for school staff, friends and family on Feb. 7.
Viramontez is now at Woodson, teaching kindergartners to 14-year-olds his motto, "if you earn it, you deserve it."
"My teaching is based on music and dance to educate and motivate children, while at the same time helping them become physically fit and active," Viramontez said. "I use dance to teach them life values, respect for themselves and others, and that we shouldn't be judgmental of ourselves or others."
The first thing the dance instructor told the students was to stand up. He then told them to sit down.
"Stand up. Sit down. Stand up. Sit down," he called out.
"Well, we have discovered that we can all move. We all move differently, but we all can move."
With the music beat resonating throughout the gymnasium, Viramontez instructed the students to follow his movements, and the dancing began.
For some students the movements and rhythm came naturally. For others it was a challenge.
"I want to engulf those who struggle in positive energy," Viramontez said. "When we work as a team, those who struggle are helped by everyone else."
Viramontez said his vehicle in teacher the students in music and dance, but the goal in much broader and deeper.
"I want to empower the students, to take ownership of their lives and decisions. To encourage them to step out and take positive risks," he said.
He expects the students to give "150 percent effort," but realizes each student's effort is individualized.
"I also expect them to behave as ladies and gentlemen. When I give them that title, I expect them to behave as such," Viramontez explained.
Sixth-grader Kaylee Hardwick said she really likes the class but it was "kind of hard."
"This is fun, but I'm having a really tough time trying to keep up with the guy. He moves really fast," said eighth-grader Victor Santos. "But I like what he is telling us."
By the end of the hour-long dance session, every student was breathing hard from the exertion and ready for a rest.
Viramontez has been dancing since he was 6-years-old. His experience with children began as a dance coach choreographing school concerts and assemblies.
He now travels to schools throughout the country by living on the road about 40 weeks out of the year.