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Moving to a different beat

Molly Shore

Candice Barlea is only 5, but the Edison Elementary School

first-grader has already appeared on stage with the Lula Washington

Dance Company.


Candice was one of about a dozen students who were selected to

join members of the Los Angeles-based dance troupe when they

entertained students during an assembly Monday in the school



Although Candice stepped through her stage fright and enjoyed the

experience, she said she has no aspirations to be a dancer.

“I want to care for animals in Sea World,” she said.

Choreographer and artistic director Lula Washington, whose

23-year-old dance company performs throughout the U.S., emceed two

shows at Edison. Children, she said, often leave the shows imitating

dance movements they saw the dancers perform.

“We have the opportunity to share our cultural voice from an


Afrocentric view,” she said. “It offers us the opportunity to share

our history and our culture with students.”

The five dancers in Washington’s company presented a program

titled “Reflections in Black.” Washington said that the program

reflected the African-American experience in the U.S. through song,

music and dance.

Sherry Beamer, a PTA first vice president in charge of

programming, said that the association strives to pick entertainment


groups that teach children cultural diversity.

“The school decided they wanted some high energy to welcome the

kids back to school, and this is perfect,” Beamer said.

Sawyer Patterson, 7, was also picked to dance with the troupe.

“Well, it was a big thing, and I had fun doing it,” Sawyer said.

“I dance at home a lot.”