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Spanish students treated to traditional Flamenco dance

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SACKETS HARBOR — Years of learning the Spanish language came alive for hundreds of students Tuesday — no passport necessary.

The Sackets Harbor Central School District hosted the Hispanic Flamenco Ballet, a traveling dance group, to bring Latin American and Spanish culture to about 450 fifth- through 12th-grade students from Sackets Harbor, Belleville Henderson, Massena, Heuvelton and Sandy Creek central schools.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to see traditional Hispanic dances, listen to authentic Hispanic music and stay right in their own school building,” Sackets Harbor Spanish teacher Jennifer L. Berie said in a letter to parents.

The show highlighted two presentations that lasted for nearly three hours. The first was a tour of Latin America via dance. Dancers in colorful traditional clothing showcased tango, salsa, merengue and malambo. For the samba, native to Brazil,the dancers came out in colorful headdresses and feathers arranged dramatically like a peacock. Classical guitarists urged students to participate, calling out various Spanish words at parts of songs such as “La Bamba.”

Students who stayed for the second half were treated to traditional Spanish flamenco dances as well as classical music played with the mandolin, tambourine and accordion.

Students from other districts paid $18 to see both shows. Because Sackets Harbor hosted the show, those taking Spanish in fifth, sixth and seventh grades attended for free, Mrs. Berie said.

“Traveling is very expensive, and even if you saw this in Spain, it would be $50 to $100,” she said. The students “know the tango and the basics, but we don’t have enough time to discuss the culture because of testing.”

That was exactly the reason many of the students enjoyed the assembly.

“We learned about these things we don’t get to see,” Belleville Henderson sophomore Karen L. Fargo said. “We don’t get to see native dancers at Belleville.”

A Massena junior enjoyed the show because of the novelty.

“It was so different than what we’re used to,” Kassidy L. Ross said.

The Hispanic Flamenco Ballet dancers have been to the school several times already. They last visited in April 2010. Mrs. Berie said she wants them to visit at least every few years.

“We’re grateful our school district supports us with it,” she said. “We’re so fortunate.”

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