If you happen to be walking down the halls of Terra Linda High School on a Thursday morning, you may hear loud squeals of excitement, the beat of a cajón and a melodic song of “Eu Sou Samba Reggae!”. These are the sounds emitting from Rachel Hughes’ MCOE Special Day Class at Terra Linda High School, where YIA Mentor Artists Stephanie Bastos and I, Nydia Gonzalez are teaching a Latin Dance class.
Students have been working on gross motor skills and collaboration through moving in unison, learning choreography, improvising, leading and many other exercises. During a typical class students go through a series of warm-up activities including the Brain Dance (Anne Green Gilbert, 2000); each individual creates a name pose for themselves; we review learned steps and choreography; learn new material; and then improvise in a Samba Reggae carnival type procession!
The focus of our dancing has been on Brazilian Folk dances including Samba and Samba Reggae, and students are very eager to show off their knowledge of the geography, language and dances of Brazil! YIA Mentor Artist Stephanie Bastos has extensive dance training,
studying with Masters of Brazilian Dance and Folklore in The Bay Area and in Brazil, and holds her BFA in Dance from University of Florida. She teaches youth a variety of dance forms including Afro-Brazilian, Hip-Hop and Contemporary dance.
Stephanie speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese, and despite having lost a limb in a car accident, she has performed with highly recognized dance companies in Florida and the Bay Area, inspiring people of all abilities.
I have trained in various forms of Dance and Music, and have been providing live percussive music (cajón) during sessions. I am so excited and feel privileged to continue to work with this fun, energetic and loving class; a continuation of teaching them Latin Dance in 2011, co-teaching with William Rossell to teach Middle Eastern Music and Dance in 2012, and now co-teaching with Stephanie in 2013.
“I particularly love watching my students creativity flow and develop. When the music comes on, I see a whole different side to my students. They are able to break out of their shells and just dance! Stephanie and Nydia bring a positive and energetic energy into the classroom. Learning a new dance and language expands my students knowledge of themselves and the world!”
MCOE Special Day Class Teacher, Rachel Hughes
This year, our neighboring classroom will not only bounce to the beats that they hear through the walls, but, they are joining our Arts Unite Us program, which means that after a few more weeks of working in the Special Day Class, we will be inviting the whole class of mainstream peers from Peggy Koorhan’s Spanish class next door to join us. We are all very excited to learn together! Stay tuned for an update in a few months!
YIA Program Director, and Mentor Artist, Nydia Algazzali Gonzalez