Dance Off: Dance group performs for more than 600 students

Published on Tuesday, 18 March 2014 22:23 - Written by Emily Guevara, eguevara@tylerpaper.com

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The sight of a man moving like a robot were enough to put the Andy Woods Elementary School students into silent awe.

The kids, along with the teachers and visitors watched intently as Cedric “Ced” Hicks moved his arms, legs, torso, head and chest in ways that appeared impossible.

So when he asked if they were pleased with his performance afterward, the several hundred students shouted gleefully, “Yes!”

Hicks was part of Soul Street Dance, a four-man team based out of Houston, that gave two performances for about 660 students at the Tyler elementary school on Tuesday.

Young Audiences of Northeast Texas spon- sored the visit and it was part of several events happening in recognition of National Young Audiences Arts for Learning Week.

“Without Young Audiences not only would they not have the learning connection from the arts, but some of these children would never see this kind of a performance and so we are so excited that the schools are willing to partner with us to allow us to bring these kinds of programs into the schools,” said Amy Baskin, Young Audiences of Northeast Texas executive director.

Young Audiences of Northeast Texas is one of 32 affiliates of the national organization and one of five Texas affiliates.

It serves more than 33 schools in an 18 county area. The organization has a “roster of teaching artists who provide performances, workshops and residencies in visual art, performing and theater arts, music and the literary arts,” according to its website.

The Soul Street Dance Co. used street dance and humor to teach students about their body and how their bones, joints and brain work together to control movement.

They taught the kids about different types of joints such as hinge and ball and socket, and different types of movement such as percussive and fluid. With each discussion, they used a dance to demonstrate the movement.

Gymnastics elements, breakdancing, hula-hoop tricks and more entertained the kids. They provided the students and teachers an opportunity to dance as well.

The students said they enjoyed the performance, found it funny and learned new facts about the body.

“I like the robot dance because they had more moves for it,” fourth-grader Bryson Donnell, 10, said. “(He) made it look like (he was) a real robot.”

Fourth-grader Mia Dickerson, 10, said the funniest part of the performance was a skit about the brain that involved the hokey pokey.

Soul Street dancer Javier Garcia said the group started in 2006, and added they perform all over the world offering educational and outreach performances in addition to their concerts.

Andy Woods Principal Brandon Chandler said exposing students to the arts can have lifelong effects.

A trip to the symphony as a kindergartener prompted him to start playing the viola, which he does to this day.

“I am an artist, so I mean the arts are important because it provides new and different experiences for kids,” he said.

Soul Street Dance Co. is made up of Garcia, Hicks, Roy Ramirez and Rodrick “Rock” Williams.