It was a rare treat for students at Lowell Music and Grant Language magnet schools. . "You'll never see this again for a long time," flamenco guitarist Michael Hauser told a class of students Thursday at Grant. "You're up in Northern Minnesota an...
It was a rare treat for students at Lowell Music and Grant Language magnet schools. . "You'll never see this again for a long time," flamenco guitarist Michael Hauser told a class of students Thursday at Grant. "You're up in Northern Minnesota and we're way down south. In Spain."
Actually, Hauser was in Minneapolis, but he could have been teaching from anywhere in the world. As part of the Minnesota Shubert Center's education program, Hauser and dancer Deborah Elias teach the basics of flamenco in classrooms across the state using videoconferencing, which allows students to interact with an instructor hundreds of miles away.
As part of the same program, the students at Lowell last week learned hip-hop dance steps from "B-Boy" J'sun Noer. The students at Lincoln Park Elementary will get their chance to learn some moves from Noer next week.
A class of Lowell fourth-graders filed into the gym and plopped down in front of a large screen, and Noer introduced himself as B-Boy J'sun. He also explained the significance of the terms "B-Boy" and "B-Girl."
"It's a term of respect, like mister or miss or teacher," Noer said. He said the "B" stands for "breaker," as in break dancing.
"Some of the kids might've thought it was a tape until [Noer] said, 'Hey, you, in the pink shirt,' " Lowell Principal Monte Wittmann said as he watched them go through a warm-up routine.
Indeed, the interaction between the students and the instructors took some getting used to, especially at Lowell, where the lessons were hampered by poor acoustics. During the question and answer session at Lowell, Noer called on a student in the front. The student appeared surprised and turned to look behind him.
Elias, wearing traditional flamenco attire -- a long, ruffled blue dress with a bright red scarf to match her red high heels and the red flower in her hair -- taught the "salida," "llamda" and "flores" steps and showed students how to play castanets. She taught the students to shout "Ole!" when they saw or heard something they enjoyed.
The Minnesota Shubert Center loaned the videoconferencing equipment -- a projector, a camera and a microphone -- at no charge.
"We couldn't afford to do this, to bring in an instructor, any other way," Koquist said. "This fit in perfect."
For their part, the students enjoyed the lesson, and they got a good workout, too -- especially the hip-hoppers. (By the end of their lesson, many of the students had piled their sweaters next to the wall of the gym.)
"I've been doing it for the past two days," Lowell physical education teacher Kristen Bergerson said. "I'm sore."
At the end of their lessons, Noer, Elias and Hauser demonstrated expert hip-hop and flamenco moves. The students' jaws hit the floor when Noer showed off a headspin -- which is exactly what it sounds like -- and when Elias fluttered across the floor, the students responded as they'd been taught: