Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Learning the Shakira moves

It seems sadly ironic to ask a handful of Europeans and Americans to teach Argentine children to dance. We are, after all, not particularly known for our sense of rhythm or amazing dance movies, reports our volunteer Jenn who is participating in dance classes inside Ciudad Oculta.

Luckily for us, the kids at Maria Rosa don´t seem to mind. They even limit their giggling when we start to move, which I find very kind of them. Marjon leads the class in a warm-up, which involves exercises like marching in place, boxing the air and sweeping our arms down to our toes.

The kids, even the smallest ones, follow suit, the air peppered with our Spanish instructions: "Izquierda! Derecha!" There are about a dozen kids at Maria Rosa for the class, from toddlers to teenagers, and at the beginning at least, all seem enthusiastic to follow our every move.

Marjon, who has worked with the dance class before, has brought along CDs with the Electric Slide and several other dances with instructions in English ("Great!" I think, "We´re practically incorporating an English lesson in with our dance class!") We hop, we slide, we criss-cross our feet. The kids seem fairly well-versed in the moves and are enjoying themselves, giggling and glancing side-ways at us to make sure they´re doing it correctly.

They grow even more excited when Marjon allows them to put on one of their own CDs, an Argentine pop song of which they know every single word. They launch into a complicated dance routine, which involves a lot of shimmying and hip-swiveling. We watch, awed, and then try to mirror their moves.

The older girls are keen to instruct us, patiently pairing up with one of us to show us the routine´s moves. We try to copy them, and I think we do an OK job, although the lesson pretty much ends in a collapse of laughter on both ends. They continue with the dance, and we just move side to side, clapping and smiling, while the little ones quickly grow impatient and ask to be picked up and swung around by the arms (a favorite game, I come to learn).

I can´t wait to return next week to continue my Shakira-like moves.

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