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CER 6th Graders Enjoy Middle Eastern Dance

Charles E. Riley Elementary School sixth-graders connected to Middle Eastern culture with music and movement during a recent hour-long workshop.
As an entire grade level, the students learned proper pronunciations of the Arabic song, “Aal Maya” and the six basic steps to the traditional Arabic folk dance, “Dabke.” The workshop was led by guest presenter Nadine Cunningham, a friend of CER music teacher Ceara Windhausen. Cunningham had spent five years teaching high school orchestra and AP Music Theory at King’s Academy in the country of Jordan.
The sixth-graders fondly remembered Cunningham, whom they had a video chat session with during one of Windhausen’s classes when they were in third grade. While they learned back then about Middle Eastern culture and music, the students again practiced Arabic greetings before they worked together to perfect the entire Arabic folk song.
After students asked questions about the food, water availability and general cultural experiences of Jordan, Cunningham taught the students and their teachers the “Dabke” dance moves, to which they enjoyed performing in both small groups and as a class. Cunningham said anyone is encouraged to be the leader of the dance, just as the students are encouraged to be leaders every day at CER.
Windhausen said she was thrilled to connect with Cunningham and bring her to CER to both meet the students and share cultural experiences. Each year, Windhausen has introduced CER students to various music styles, as classes have enjoyed those cultural experiences in both specials time and choral performances.

Charles E. Riley Elementary School sixth-graders and their teachers learn how to do the “Dabke,” an Arabic folk
dance, during a recent workshop led by guest presenter Nadine Cunningham.

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