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posted: 6/6/2014 1:10 PM

Spanish students learn Latin dance moves

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  • Buffalo Grove High School Spanish students learn Latin dances from Miguel Mendez of Salsa Chicago.

    Buffalo Grove High School Spanish students learn Latin dances from Miguel Mendez of Salsa Chicago.
    Courtesy of District 214

Submitted by District 214

Spanish students in levels 1, 2, and 3 hit the dance floor in Buffalo Grove High School's Community Room May 29, where they learned the fundamentals of the Bachata, Merengue, Cha Cha Cha and Salsa from dance instructor Miguel Mendez of Salsa Chicago.

Buffalo Grove Spanish teacher Miguel Parra Garcia, who formerly had taken classes at the Humboldt Park-based Salsa Chicago Academy, contacted Mendez to provide instruction for the Spanish students. Funds from the school's Arts Unlimited program, with the assistance of director Michelle Price, covered the cost.

Mendez not only demonstrated the dance steps, but also taught the students about the origins of the dances and how the feminine and masculine roles are reflected in culture, which may not have been previously apparent to the suburban high schoolers.

Mendez also shared with the students that he routinely works with the senior population of Chicago through a state grant. The program is housed at University of Illinois-Chicago and employs Latin dance as a form of physical therapy. According to Mendez, studies have proven obvious health benefits for this particular demographic.

"Mendez did a phenomenal job of incorporating the target language into the lesson, using translation and his body to help communicate the message," said Buffalo Grove High School Spanish teacher Colleen Murtagh.

"It was a fantastic way for our students to experience the language in an authentic setting, as well as a fun way for them to self-evaluate their listening comprehension."

The teachers hope to again provide this successful experience of Latin dance for their students in the future.

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