As the saying goes, age is just a number. Just ask my K-3 scholars who recently spent an afternoon giving dance lessons to senior citizens.
In May, as a community service project, I took my school’s dance team to Heart to Heart, an adult day care facility in Brooklyn. The director’s daughter attends our school, and he had invited us to meet and entertain the men and women who attend the center for daily activities. The idea appealed to me because I think it’s important for our scholars to give back and know that their talent is a gift that can make others happy. That was a lesson I learned from my own grandparents, who gave me my passion for music and dance.
On the day of our visit, the students wore bright orange T-shirts; the boys also had bandanas and the girls had tutus. When we walked into the center, people were clapping and cheering. Everyone was so excited to see us. Over the next hour, the students performed several upbeat routines, showing off their best breakdancing and hip-hop moves. At one point, three seniors in the audience got up and joined in the fun, dancing along with the scholars.
One of the favorite performances was a dance mash-up choreographed to the classic hit song, “Lean on Me.” The lyrics, “Lean on me, when you’re not strong/And I’ll be your friend/I’ll help you carry on,” seemed especially appropriate for the occasion. They made me think of my mother, who taught those lyrics to me. We remixed the song with the latest dance craze “Lean & Dabb.” Everyone in the room was clapping, and some seniors wanted to dance along with our scholars. At the end of the performance, the director enthusiastically declared, “This is my daughter’s school everybody!” He was so proud of our school and our dancers — as I was.
Before we left, a woman approached me in tears. She said she recognized two of my students. “I know their mother and these are her babies,” she said. She was so happy to see them and gave them each a hug. The next day, everyone at the school was talking about our day of service and how much fun it was. One boy who is not on the dance team told me he wanted to try out next year. I know my students can’t wait to go back and dance with these spirited community members again!