Sports: Kids’ fancy footwork
April 23, 2008
RAF MILDENHALL — Some kids want to smack a baseball out of the ballpark like Barry Bonds and some want to nail a last-second shot like LeBron James.
Other kids want to mimic dance moves from pop music stars Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake.
For those who fall under that group, the youth center here has launched new hip-hop dance classes for boys and girls between 8 and 13 years old.
But don’t let the name fool you. Kids aren’t getting “crunk” or rubbing up against each other like adults in nightclubs. The hourlong classes go more into choreographed jazz dance routines.
“I threw in the jazz because usually hip-hop doesn’t have any technique. It’s kind of freestyle,” said Jill Barranca, who began the classes in February as an alternative to other dance courses at the center.
The music is also toned down to cater to pint-size dancers. So forget the profanity-laced tracks from The Game and 50 Cent. Instead, think Timbaland, Pussycat Dolls and other pop stars of today’s music.
“I am very careful with my song choices,” Barranca said before a recent class. “It’s my favorite style of dance and I love the music.”
Her student dancers feel the same way.
“It’s fun for me and I always teach the moves to my friends,” said 9-year-old Taylor Stoetzel.
Taylor, who enjoys the moves of Beyoncé and Shakira, isn’t new to the dancing field. She said she prefers this class to her previous tap-dancing course.
“It’s kind of cooler and faster than tap dancing,” she continued. “It’s also a better workout. With tap dancing, you just move your feet [but] with hip-hop you get to move your arms and legs.”
Wearing a bright yellow T-shirt with “I know I can dance” on the front to a recent class was Carson Alvarez. The energetic 8-year-old jumped and spun around showing off moves he had just learned in class.
When he gets older — and after plenty more practice — he aspires to become a professional hip-hop dancer.
“It’s a fun thing to do,” he said of the class. “It’s pretty cool and you meet friends in class.”
Parents of the nine students taking the class recently peeked through windows to see their kids strut their stuff during class.
Kelly McNichols kept an eye on her 9-year-old daughter, Chloe, as she was taught a new routine.
“I think it’s great. It gets her involved and at the same time gives her exercise,” she said of her daughter.
The majority of students in the class were girls but Barranca stressed that her routines aren’t as girly as boys might think. The moves she teaches can even help boys impress the ladies when school dances come along or when they’re old enough to hit up nightclubs.
“I try to tell them how much fun it is,” she said of boys who visit the center. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re a boy or a girl. You might surprise yourself.”
RAF Mildenhall’s Youth Center offers hip-hop dance classes every Tuesday and Wednesday from 4:45 to 5:45 p.m. Boys and girls from 8 to 13 years old are invited to attend the classes, which cost $47 a month. For more information, call the center at 238-2831.