England’s George IV was a well known trendsetter and style maker. He wore his natural hair as opposed to a powdered wig and favored trousers instead of knee breeches. Scandalized by his unconventional choices, excessive lifestyle, and extravagant parties, his contemporaries often ridiculed his ostentation.
One of his most scathing criticisms came in 1816 after a ball he hosted in London. A new dance was included in the evening’s festivities and The Times reported in a vicious editorial the following day that this “indecent foreign dance” amounted to an “obscene display” and a “fatal contagion.”
The dance was the waltz. Two hundred years later, the waltz is still alive and well and students at Nims Middle School are carrying on the tradition. This year marks dance teacher Kelsey Boyer’s third at the school and many of her students have been with her that entire time. “I thought to myself, what else can I introduce them to in terms of dance? Last year, I asked them what else they’d like to learn. Some of them said ‘what about ballroom dance?’” As a classically trained ballet dancer, that was a tall order for Boyer but she was up to the challenge, though not all of her students were quite as eager. “I was trying to explain to them, you’re going to have to partner up and touch each other. At first, they were kind of like no,” but Boyer explained “this is going to help you later on in life. When you get older, the girls are going to be so impressed.”
That argument reinforced what eighth-grader Ja’Quan Teramean already knew and he has used the same logic. “I have a brother who doesn’t know how to dance so I help him just in case he has to dance with females. He needs to learn how to do that.” Ja’Quan not only teaches others, he also creates his own choreography which he performs and posts on social media. Though he’s inspired by icons like Michael Jackson, Ja’Quan keeps coming back to Boyer’s class.
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