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Springfield Schools dance program goes ‘Over the Top’

SPRINGFIELD — On June 11 the beats of Michael Jackson’s songs vibrated through Symphony Hall as dancers showed off their newly acquired skills during the City Wide Competition of Over the Top: The Ballroom Dance Project.
Six city elementary schools vied for the title of Ballroom Dance Champions. The participating schools were Milton Bradley, Brunton, Gerena, Kensington, Talmadge, and Zanetti. Eight couples from each school performed in both couples and group routines.
The dancers’ journey began back in October when they were first introduced to ballroom dancing with the rest of their 5th grade classmates. Seven dances were taught: Merengue, Cha Cha, Tango, Latin Hustle, Fox Trot, Swing and Triple Swing.
In January, the 16 finalists from each school were selected during School Dance Offs. These finalists worked hard to perfect their dancing skills and to get ready for Symphony Hall.
The theme for the night was a tribute to Michael Jackson. The bright lights, sparkling costumes, and popular music set a tone of excitement and the dancers quickly forgot about their nerves. They danced with pride and confidence as parents both cheered and cried.
At the end of the evening all of the dancers returned to the stage to receive their trophies as the audience sang, “We Are the World.” Kensington Ave’s Cha Cha to “Man in the Mirror” earned second place; Zanetti’s Triple Swing to “Ease on Down the Road” won both the Best School Routine Award and the championship.
The Over the Top: The Ballroom Dance Project will begin its seventh year in the fall. The program is co-directed by Allyson and George Gouzounis. To date, the couple has taught more than 4,000 5th graders how to ballroom dance.
More importantly, they have motivated students to be risk-takers, instilled self-confidence, and promoted good sportsmanship, teamwork, and cooperation. The Over the Top Dancers, an alumnae group, perform at many charitable events, nursing homes, and hospitals throughout the city. For more information, contact the Gouzounizes at 433-5036.
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