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Learning to Dance – Panamá Style

In Lower School Spanish and P.E. news, Senior Kindergartners finished learning about the country of Panamá and the importance of the Panamá Canal. Middle and Lower School P.E. Teacher Summer Beasley extended their learning by teaching them a Panamanian dance called  “El Punto Panameño.” Beasley traveled to Panamá several years ago to learn about dance styles and culture. El Punto is considered to be the most lovely and elegant Panamanian dance, and it is typically danced by a couple.

Here are a few of the dance steps that students learned:

  • El Paseo – The couple walks around in a wide circle.
  • El Zapateo – The dancers show off their skills by the movement of their feet.
  • El Escovillado – The couple moves away from each other with a short backwards-running movement.

Lower School Spanish Teacher señora Soledad Villagomez shared, “Students also learned about the importance of traditional clothing and jewelry with these dances. Women wear long skirts when doing folk dances – a sign of Spanish influence in Panamá. The most important skirt is called ‘La Pollera,’ and people in Panamá spend months embroidering polleras customized for the dancer. The length of the pollera must closely match the height of the dancer because she holds the skirt in her hand when dancing. Las polleras are usually passed down in a family from generation to generation. Women also wear different kinds of hand-beaded crowns. The jewelry and necklaces also have unique meanings. The men wear a simpler attire that consists of long sleeve white, collared shirts, dark pants and a straw hat known as a ‘Panama Hat.’

“Students also learned about a traditional festival in Panamá called Corpus Christi, celebrated 60 days after Good Friday. The celebration includes a performance of men dancing in the streets dressed in vivid costumes such as striped red and black suits, multi-colored pieces and hideous, brightly painted masks with horns crowned with feathers. Students also learned about the traditional leather sandals called ‘cutarras,’ which are handmade and customized for each dancer. Students got to see a pair of Ms. Beasley’s cutarras. The children have so much fun learning and dancing!”

What a wonderful experience, blending Spanish and dance for fun learning for all!