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Free ballroom dance program is a big hit

AMENIA — Webutuck students in grades two through eight have been participating in a 10-week free dance class that will culminate on Sunday, Dec. 11, with a free dance recital at Webutuck High School.The students are taught by June Kaufmann, who has been a dance instructor for 40 years. They learn ballet and several types of ballroom dances, including the pasodoble and the rumba, which are combined in performances that range from traditional to modern to showy Broadway-esque routines.Kaufmann said that most of her students had never heard of those dances before joining her class. “Those were foreign words to them,” she said.But now, the students have fallen in love with dancing. Some of the student who joined the program when it first began six years ago have become so dedicated that the maximum grade level was raised this year so that they could continue with the class.Kaufmann said that through the dances, the students learn posture, grace, balance, strength, flexibility, confidence, social skills and several other important traits, and explained that professional athletes ­— both male and female — include dancing in their workout schedules because of the many benefits that can be gained through it.“We’re teaching them the arts,” Kaufmann explained. “It’s wonderful.”She said she would love to see more students take advantage of the program, especially since it has no participation costs.The dance program is offered completely free for the children because the costs of providing the program have been covered by grants, including a Berkshire Taconic grant and a Community Foundation of Dutchess County grant.The program is available to all Webutuck students in grades two through eight. Kaufmann was eager to point out that there were students from all different backgrounds, including students who had moved to the area from abroad. She only lamented that more boys haven’t joined.The students will hold their final performance at Webutuck High School on Sunday, Dec. 11, at 2:30 p.m. Admission is free, and all are welcome to attend.The students will hold a preview recital during the Amenia Holiday of Lights celebration. They will perform from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Amenia Town Hall on Sunday, Dec. 4.

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