News & Features » Miscellany

Little feet get ready for the big, beautiful "Nutcracker."

Feet in Motion

comment
While many a girl dreams of dancing, particularly in the much adored "The Nutcracker," thanks to Minds in Motion, a program from Richmond Ballet, boys are learning what girls have known all along.

Paul Dandridge, Rob Durham, Rashid Hughes, Zach Moon, Sam Orelove and Kody Wyatt, all fourth-graders from area schools, have been cast in "The Nutcracker's" party scene and have been attending weekly rehearsals. Their consensus about dancing: It's fun.

"It's so much fun. And exciting," explains 10-year-old Sam Orelove, who attends William Fox Elementary School. "A great experience. I get to dance with professional dancers in a great theater. All the professional dancers are nice and cool, and they give us all sorts of tips on how to do it."

Says 9-year-old Rob Durham of Mary Munford, "Performing gets me kinda' nervous, but it's still fun. I get to show people my talent."

Each of the boys has gone through the Richmond Ballet's Mind in Motion program and has been dancing for anywhere from one to three years. Minds in Motion is the Ballet's educational initiative to invest in the community and integrate dance into the school curriculum. Incorporating jazz, modern dance and ballet, the Ballet goes into local schools to teach fourth-grade students discipline, dedication and self-awareness through dance steps.

Abby Winshop, mother of 10-year-old Zach Moon, a student at Richmond Montessori School, has heard from teachers that students return from dance class refreshed and eager to learn. Says Winshop, "They've burned off energy and are ready to do hard work." Dancer Orelove confirms the claim. "I pay attention more in class," he says. "I'm able to focus more because of the dancing. I don't get so hyped-up."

The boys have learned that dance is physically demanding. Performing, often to a steady beat, increases their strength and coordination, skills that apply to another of their loves, sports. Says Orelove about playing soccer: "I've gotten more stable. I don't fall down as much as I used to. I can dribble down the field much easier."

"I run faster and stretch farther," soccer-player Durham adds. "It's really helped me be a goalie."

Helping with sports and in class are two benefits, but Durham finds a more personal value. "I get to have lots of fun," he explains, "but I like that I get to dance with my sister." His sister Ann has been cast as a soldier and a mirliton. Says Moon, "All my friends should dance. They'd really like it."

With a cast of more than 115 children, many do get that opportunity. The rest of us get to watch the fantasy unfold and that role, too, has innumerable charms.

Add a comment