“Are you ready to dance?” was the shout out at Scotland Elementary School a few weeks ago when 400 students were taken on a journey of American musical theatre dance styles through the decades by James Robey, artistic director of the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance.

Robey and his dance students performed excerpts from musicals such as 42nd Street, Oklahoma and A Chorus Line and demonstrated and explained the significance of the different dance styles in the evolution of American musicals.

This is the fourth successive year that students at Scotland have been able to participate in this program. The program is a physical, musical and historical education experience designed specifically to enhance the cultural education curriculum at the school.

The program builds on the African Dance and Drumming program in 2008, the Jive to Hip Hop Jazz in 2009, and American Modern Dance in 2010. Fifth grader Meg Fridrich said, “I really like the program and how we do different themes of dance each year.”

The kick off assembly set the stage for two workshops that all students in the school then participated in during their normal P.E. time. Each grade focused on learning a predominant musical theatre dance style in a specific period. These included excerpts from 42nd street for Kindergarteners, West Side Story for 2nd Graders and The Lion King for 5th graders.

Fourth grader Christoph Schneider said, “The dance program is really well-run and Mr. Robey makes it really clear. It’s fun.”

In the second workshop session, a small group of students were selected from each grade to perform a brief combination of steps that they learned at an assembly on April 13th.

Second Grader Kate Zangre said, “I really liked the dances that Mr. Robey made up for us because they are cool and the people who would be watching us would be really surprised with the dancing.”

The students will be supported in their performance by James Robey and professional dancers and students from the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance. The performance is designed to showcase what the students have learned and show grade-by-grade the variety of approaches and the development of American musical theatre dance through the decades.

The students also learn the important life skill of how to be a good audience — knowing when to keep quiet, when to applaud and when to participate.

This is always a popular event at Scotland School — not only do the students learn about different music and dance styles from a professional instructor, they get to try them out for themselves, and they get a work out whilst having fun.

Fourth grader DJ Ammirato said, “I think it’s fun, and all kids should participate.”