East Bethel fifth-graders learn a new step

As the drum beat swelled and the sound of Native American singers filled the gym, Cedar Creek Community School (CCCS) fifth-graders tried something new.

Cedar Creek Community School fifth-grader Cody Perfetti tries out some of the Fancy Dance steps while his classmates, including Joey Kaske (right), clap to the time of the music. Photo by Tammy Sakry

Cedar Creek Community School fifth-grader Cody Perfetti tries out some of the Fancy Dance steps while his classmates, including Joey Kaske (right), clap to the time of the music. Photo by Tammy Sakry

The music might sound weird because it is different, said Native Pride Dancer Larry Yazzie, who was the guest speaker Oct. 4.

“But it is beautiful to dance to and its joyous and spiritually uplifting to me,” he said.

After instruction by Yazzie in the steps of the Fancy Dance, which was created in the 1950s, and what to listen for in the music, the students stepped into the middle of the circle one at a time and showed off their moves, from the criss cross to the heel toes steps.

It was awesome to watch each of her students step into the circle, said teacher Shirley Meyers.

Describing their time to dance in one word, the students used fun, awesome, nervous, tired, excitement, fantastic, scary and good workout.

Each of CCCS’s fifth-grade classes worked with Yazzie for about an hour as part of Native American curriculum.

During the four- to five-week unit, the students will be learning about different Native American cultures, including housing, foods, games and celebrations of the earliest Native American tribes, said Meyers.

Yazzie, who is from the Meskwaki Nation of Iowa, has been a member of Native Pride Dancers for nearly 14 years and does individual workshops with students as well as performs with the Native Pride Dancers.

CCCS students in all grades saw the dance troupe perform Oct. 5.

Tammy Sakry is at
tammy.sakry@ecm-inc.com


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