TCU students teach dance at Alice Contreras Elementary School

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TCU students are leaping and jumping every Monday and Friday teaching children to dance.

TCU Tadpoles is a new organization on campus that partnered with Alice Contreras Elementary School to provide a free after-school dance program for students.

The head coach, president and founder of the organization, Marita Henley, said TCU Tadpoles is all about the kids.

“The entire goal of this organization is to offer a quality dance education at no cost,” Henley  said.

The idea for the organization was first thought of several years ago, and Henley said it has been a dream ever since.

“It actually came to me in high school, and I tried to make the program happen, but there was a lot of push back,” Henley said.

This summer she was determined to bring the organization to life.

“This summer I got everything together, and I contacted a whole bunch of schools, got an advisor, and I got a vice president and a treasurer, and they pretty much helped make the whole thing come together,” Henley said.

Henley said she is pleased with how the partnership with Alice Contreras Elementary is going, and she hopes to expand to more schools in the future.

“This is an amazing school, the kids are super cute, the staff is really supportive, and they’ve been very sweet,” Henley said.

Alex Arispe, site supervisor at Alice Contreras Elementary, said he believes the program is expanding the students’ concept of culture. The children have the opportunity to learn ballet, jazz and hip hop.

“I know for a lot of them, ballet and jazz, I don’t know if they are familiar with those words, let alone what it means,” Arispe said.

Arispe said most of the students have not had formal dance experience

“I think for some of them, this might be an opportunity to say, ‘Oh, I really like this, if given the chance, this is something I would pursue when I grow up, or I’d like to take real lessons,'” he said.

Henley said the program not only teaches children how to dance, but the coaches also spend time before and after the class going over dance etiquette. No talking or laughing while the children are performing are a few examples of her rules.

“This is the prime time where [kids] start developing insecurities, if that makes sense, and so I kind of like to nip that in the bud before it happens because kids laughing or talking is something that can stop kids from being as good as they can be, because they are embarrassed, or worried about what someone else thinks,” Henley said.

Henley said most of the organization’s money comes from dues and application fees from the members.

“We have about $200 in our account right now, which is not great but it’s something, so that money is going to go towards costumes, progress charts, stickers, and everything basically for the kids,” Henley said.

Henley said the money that has been raised for these purposes came from membership dues, which are $25, and application fees, which are $5.

The application will reopen next semester and is open to anyone, no matter how much dance experience an applicant has. There are head coaches, assistant coaches and floaters. Henley said TCU students who do not have a lot of dance experience are encouraged to be floaters and come hang out with the children.

Reilly Faith, a first year dance major and head coach, said she enjoys sharing her passion with the kids.

“I love seeing their smiles and their faces light up when they do a dance they are familiar with,” Faith said. “They enjoy it so much.”