Valerio Students Dance Day Away

Students twirled, flipped and spun at Valerio Street Elementary School on Tuesday, as part of a modern dance program put together with the help of Louise Reichlin's dance company.

"The purpose is to let them start enjoying dance and the arts and learning from doing dance," said Reichlin, who worked for about a month with students, parents and teachers at the elementary school.

Reichlin's dance company is part of Los Angeles Choreographers and Dancers, a nonprofit organization that uses dance to cross cultural and socioeconomic lines. Their work with Valerio students was made possible through a $10,000 grant from the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department for projects in the Valley.

"They absolutely loved practicing it," third-grade teacher Francesca Castrejon said about her class' participation in the program. "We were dancing in the classroom twice a day."

About 70 children danced Tuesday in front of an auditorium filled with parents and peers.

The program began with Reichlin and her dancers performing four pieces from "The Woman With One Head Plus A Wedding Story."

After the pros, it was time for the students, who executed three dances with Reichlin's company. In one piece, students danced around as two eight-headed monsters.

Another was a combination of a Japanese coal-mining song, a Hebrew love song and an African healing dance. In the third, about 15 students did interpretations of a variety of everyday activities, such as putting on makeup.

"I enjoyed practicing with the dancers," said Christian Gonzalez, 8. "I learned it's fun to dance."

Some of the third-graders will perform with Reichlin this weekend at the Little Theatre at Valley College, 5800 Fulton Blvd., Valley Glen. Performances begin at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. For reservations and ticket information call (213) 385-1171.

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