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Zumbini class teaches young children developmental skills

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North country babies and toddlers can now join the Zumba craze — well, sort of.

Instructor Amy Rawson began an eight-week session Tuesday at In Motion School of Dance, 19401 Route 3, of Zumbini, a class designed to teach small children developmental skills through music and movement. Zumbini is the youngest of classes of Zumba, a Latin-music-inspired fitness program.

“She might be a dancer, she might not. It’s the exposure of different things that helps,” said Kelley B. Geller, about her daughter, 17-month-old Emerson S.’s participation in the 45-minute class.

Mrs. Geller and her friend, Melissa R. Novak, who brought her daughter, Charlotte L., 16 months, both said they had been looking for an age-appropriate, fun class in which to enroll their girls. Between music and dance, Mrs. Geller said Zumbini “was integrated and seemed more involved” than any specific dance or sport class for young children.

Parents were directed to help their children follow along to Mrs. Rawson’s instructions of tapping feet, clapping hands, walking in a circle and banging on drums, among other movements, as they sung along — as best they could — to recordings of children’s versions of music.

“In my professional life I worked with children and babies, so it was a perfect fit,” said Mrs. Rawson, who is the community health worker program coordinator at Planned Parenthood of the North Country New York. “I was excited to bring (Zumbini) to the community.”

She also teaches adult Zumba and Zumba for Kids, for children ages 6 to 12. Zumbini, she said, is for newborns to three-year-olds.

“The moms and caregivers will get sweaty, but (Zumbini’s) not for exercise,” Mrs. Rawson said.

Moms worked extra hard Tuesday, as they not only worked to get their children to participate, but also to refocus the children when they left the group to explore.

“She’s more mechanical than she is a dancer,” Mrs. Geller said, as Emerson tried to open the door to leave.

Madaelyn N. Folgert, 2, followed along to the beat of the music, alongside her mother, Krista L., who also was holding infant son Oliver P.

“Their older sister does dance here, and I figured it’d be good for her to be involved in a class with movement,” Mrs. Folgert said.

All of the young girls actively participated when Mrs. Rawson instructed them to jump during a portion of a song, and when it was time to use rattles, bracelets with bells on them and drums. Then, when music played again, Charlotte was ready to dance and began waving her arms in the air and rocked back and forth.

Despite some distractions, Madaelyn’s desire to leave and watch her sister dance in the next room, and the girls walking toward the exit, Mrs. Rawson said she’s still calling the first lesson successful. “In the first class they’re still (learning) what to do,” she said.

For more information on Mrs. Rawson’s class, visit www.arawson.zumba.com.

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