Dance to the beat

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By Nathan L. McBroom

The rhythms and movements of tribal Africa filled Clear Creek Elementary school's cafeteria on Monday as a local percussion and dance group performed for the students.

Dancers from East Middle school's Talented and Gifted program and percussionists from the school's band gave the elementary students a performance and then taught them how the music and movements are made.

Kathie Wrightson, East TAG coordinator, said the performance was amazing. She said this was the first time that students from the school have ever combined live music and dance together into a performance.

She said combining the elements of music and dance gives the students an understanding of what it is like to be a professional dancer.

Teaching students to look at strive toward their career and their goals is her hope, she said.

"It's all about authenticity. My goal as a teacher is to give my students authentic performance practice," she said. "Performing with live musicians then performing with a CD."

Once a week the 13 dancers in the group receive instruction during the school day by the Gillman School of Dance.

Wrightson said in order to perform the piece correctly the dancers had to learn to listen to the subtle nuances in the music and to keep in step with the music.

The drummers also had to learn to keep the dancers in mind during the performance. Wrightson said the drummers had to make sure they did not increase the tempo so the dancers would not get worn out.

Wrightson said Tammy Oerther, band director, has done a great job keeping the kids on tempo.

This past weekend, seven percussionists in the group recently received top honors at a competition at South Oldham Middle school. Each of the group members scored a distinguished at a competition.

Wrightson said the accomplishment is not an easy task.

The dancers and the percussionist will be performing together at local elementary schools throughout the school year and will perform for EMS this May.