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Staying after school
“One and two and three and four”—the count rings out in the small teaching auditorium at Saratoga Springs High School as forty teenagers try out a series of sassy dance steps. Counting off and demonstrating each move is Karla Hawkins ’07, with teaching partner Julio Toledo ’06 at her side. For the past two years, Hawkins and Toledo have directed the dance segment of Saratoga Promise, an afterschool program that combines hip-hop instruction with homework help.
Every Friday at 3:30, Hawkins, a dance and exercise-science major, and Toledo, a dance and women’s-studies major, donate their time, talent, and infectious energy. They do all the cool moves: slap right hand to right cheek, look left, pose for a beat, look right, clap hands, wiggle hips, step out, and clap again. “These are little movements, but make them sharp,” Hawkins urges. Whippet-thin girls in ponytails and tank tops cavort alongside huskier dancers in oversize sweats, and everyone moves. “One more time?” asks Hawkins. “Yeah!” the students respond. “Whoo!”
Sponsored by the regional Dance Alliance and boosted by a community block grant from the city of Saratoga Springs, the five-year-old program also fields a performance troupe called MOVE, which has played the Dance Plus weekend at Skidmore, Dance Day at the nearby National Museum of Dance, and other gigs.
Saratoga High sophomore Sierra Moore says, “Our choreographers are amazing people.” Junior Tatiana Morales observes, “There’s not that much hip-hop in this community, but here we can do what we love to do.” Says Toledo, “You definitely want to help others do what you love.”—BAM
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