On Thursday, November 9, the middle school community had a visit from Rodney Eric Lopez, a motivational speaker and educator who teaches about community, growth mindset, and generosity through dance. Students and faculty gathered in the middle school atrium for an afternoon of dancing and departure from comfort zones.
An accomplished ballroom and salsa dancer and teacher, Lopez has taught students from all over the world the value of dance to overcome differences in an effort to build greater connections.
King emphasizes the importance of building community as a guiding principle in its mission. This pillar of the school is constantly implemented through the curriculum and activities throughout the year, but Lopez’s presentation showed new ways that we can bolster this vital element of school life.
While the idea of dancing together may have been a bit nerve-wracking for some, Lopez created a joyful environment that made it easier for students to be brave.
“It was a very welcoming experience,” said Sarah Kolenberg ’29, who helped to demonstrate some moves for the entire school.
Setting the students up in two circles, Lopez then guided everyone through the basic steps of salsa, merengue, and ballroom dancing. Students would switch dance partners every few seconds, often being matched with individuals they had never spoken with before. After a few moments of hesitation, the whole room was moving together and getting to know each other better.
Of course, the laughs and fun had by all was just a piece of the impact that the afternoon had. The lessons that can be gleaned from Lopez’s instruction are meaningful and lasting, particularly when it comes to building community.
“You can’t ‘other’ someone when you are dancing,” Lopez said. This was a means by which the students could discard their differences and simply share a new experience together.