Hip-hop beats pulsated through the cafeteria of an American School for the Deaf building in West Hartford as FarmingtonDANCE instructor Mia Nardini of Avon led the students through a variety of moves Thursday morning.
For an hour, Nardini and several students from the Canton studio led a group of some 30 third through sixth-graders as they rolled their fists, jumped, shuffled, popped and locked their bodies. A few even tried some advanced "freezes." Earlier a group of younger students had done the same.
"The kids love it," said Becky Peters, a pre-K and Kindergarten teacher at the school. "For them to experience something like this and see they can do it is amazing."
Approximately five years ago, Peters, a Canton resident whose daughter Alyssa studies at FarmingtonDANCE, approached studio artistic director Kym Nash with the idea.
Since then members of the studio have visited ASD nearly every year to teach the students. They've tried other styles but hip-hop is especially effective due to its pulsating rhythms, which can be felt by the students with more severe hearing loss, Nash said.
Nash said it's also a lot of fun. She loves to see the determination of the students, who work hard to learn the moves in just an hour's time.
"They are really amazing kids," Nash said, adding that it's been great to see some of the same students grow year after year.
Barbara French, student support services coordinator at ASD, said the school strives to bring in various professionals to augment learning. She said she appreciates the time the studio volunteers and added that it allows the kids to exercise and express themselves.
"The kids really enjoy it," she said.