The language of dance

Duncombe students learn salsa dancing

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Robbye Ron and his mother, Elena Ron, demonstrate salsa dancing for the fourth-graders at Duncombe Elementary School on Friday morning in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.

In Hispanic culture, dance is a form of language and on Friday, fourth graders at Duncombe Elementary School learned a bit of that language with a salsa lesson.

“Who wants chips and salsa?” Robbye Ron asked the students, who immediately shot their hands up to volunteer. “Well, we don’t have any, so we’re going to dance salsa,” Ron said with a wink.

Ron and his mother, Elena Ron, led the students in learning a few basic steps of the Latin dance that is such a huge part of their culture. The two are originally from Ecuador in South America. Robbye’s wife, Kirstie, is a first grade special education teacher at Duncombe, and they have a son who attends the school as well.

“These are just the first steps of salsa,” Robbye Ron said after the lesson. “I’m just trying to get them excited about Hispanic culture.”

The activity was held in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is celebrated each year from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Duncombe Elementary fourth-graders took a short salsa dancing lesson from Robbye and Elena Ron on Friday morning in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.

“It’s like a language for us,” Robbye Ron said. “It’s easy to communicate with people who could have different backgrounds and beliefs, when music and dance bring us together.”

“When you listen to Latin music, you relax,” Elena Ron added.

Marie Lehman, who teaches the English Language Learners at Duncombe, spearheaded the planning of Hispanic Heritage Month activities. This is the first year they’ve planned events that highlight Hispanic culture for all of the grades. First graders will learn about and make pinatas, while second graders will learn to play the Spanish game Loteria. Third graders will learn about how food fits in with Hispanic culture, and fifth-graders will have a quinceanera fashion show and a soccer demonstration.

“We’re just hoping to develop an appreciation for differences and cultures of friends they have in the class,” Lehman said. “We plan to do it for other cultures as well.”

She said with the growing population of Pacific Islander students, she’s planning on celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Duncombe Elementary English Language Learner teacher Maria Lehman dances with Robbye Ron during a salsa dancing lesson Ron was giving for the fourth-graders on Friday morning in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.

“This is the world we live in and they’re going to grow up living and working with people who are different than they are, so to develop an appreciation and comfort with people that are different from them will only benefit them as they grow,” Lehman said.


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