Wheaton Students Find New Rhythm in Latin Dance Club (Video and Photos)

As school lets out for the day at Wheaton High School, one group of students makes their way to a small classroom to pick up and move desks and chairs to the walls in order to make room for their next activity.

The room used for classes during the day is turned into a dance studio after school, serving as the space for these young adults to learn about their culture and pick up some moves along the way.

The students are part of the Wheaton High School Latin Dance Club, one of 10 groups competing at the county school system’s 14th annual Latin Dance Competition on Nov. 25.

This is the first year that Wheaton is participating in the event.

“Even if we lose, we’re already winning,” said Andrea Dominguez, 17, a junior at Wheaton. “We’re already representing our school and representing our people. I get in this group because we’re Latin, and I’m so proud to represent all of my Latin people and that’s why we’re here.”

For most of the students in the club, this is their first exposure to Latin dance and in just 12 weeks, they have gone from not knowing proper form, to learning a complete production number complete with lifts, transitions and difficult rhythms.

Students in the Wheaton High School Latin Dance Club rehearse for their upcoming competition.

Students in the Wheaton High School Latin Dance Club rehearse for their upcoming competition.

“They are so dedicated I mean just to say that high schoolers come in rehearse hours and after school and at night we have evening rehearsals from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. sometimes and just the fact that they come in and do that says wonders,” said Juliana Calderon, a Latin Ballroom Choreographer with Montgomery County Public Schools. “They’re wonderful kids with really good hearts. They work really hard.”

But for program director Ricardo Loaiza, it’s about more than dance. It’s also about role models.

“We’re using music and we’re using this program to actually kind of catch them and be able to talk to them to keep them on the right path, to talk about self motivation to talk about teamwork, respect each other and those are the real reasons of why this program exists,” said Loaiza.

And for the students, it’s a chance to form bonds and learn from each other.

“It’s fun, we get to learn new moves and everybody helps each other,” said Antonio Shaw, 15, a sophomore at Wheaton. “Everyone’s nice and understanding.”

“I feel very proud and very emotional because we do our hardest and we try to make everything perfect even though everything can’t come out perfect, we do try our hardest and we’re all like a family,” said Laura Fuentes, 14, a freshman at Wheaton High School.

 

Ricardo Loaiza instructs students in the Latin Ballroom Club at Wheaton High School.

Ricardo Loaiza instructs students in the Latin Dance Club at Wheaton High School.

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Wheaton Students Find New Rhythm in Latin Dance Club (Video and Photos)

Ricardo Loaiza instructs students in the Latin Ballroom Club at Wheaton High School.

As school lets out for the day at Wheaton High School, one group of students makes their way to a small classroom to pick up and move desks and chairs to the walls in order to make room for their next activity. The room used for classes during the day is turned into a dance […]

Read more

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Valerie Bonk

About Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk is a multimedia reporter and community engagement specialist with Montgomery Community Media (MCM).

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