Walnut Ridge holds May Pole dance

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  • First-graders have fun with the May Pole Dance while Kindergartners watch.

  • First-graders weave a pattern with 24 ribbons on the May Pole.

  • On right, Michael Moschella says goodbye to a student after the May Pole Dance.

“I remember seeing it last year, and I've been waiting all year to do the May Pole,” said Walnut Ridge Primary School first-grader Nate.

Physical education teacher Todd Piontkowski and music teacher Michael Moschella led, on May 10, the first-graders through the special spring welcoming treat, while the Kindergartners gazed and dreamed of doing it next year.

Moschella played cheerful folk music by the New England Dance Masters, with whom he danced the May Pole in Massachussetts.

The students are pretty young for the May Pole Dance, explained Moschella, in which they go in different directions, keeping their arm up, and a safe distance from each other.

Piontkowski said, they practiced three times with each class last week, preparing for the big event, adding, “Mike and I are going to have a fun day.”

The students really enjoy the dance, Moschella said, because it is different. They are really serious about it, but they enjoy themselves at the same time.

Suddenly booming, Piontkowski said, “Gentleman! Get on the white line on the black top, and walk to me. Right there,” as the first class came outside in the warm sunshine to the May Pole.

Moschella and he, Piontkowski added, went to Gordon College, where they learned dances from around the world, including the May Pole for adults. Piontkowski made the May Pole, and Moschella found the music.

Moschella explained, he took a great folk dancing class through Mrs. Feierabend, who taught them how to make the pole and simplify the dance for beginners.

To the Kindergartners, Piontkowski said, “Knee to knee, crisscross applesauce. Good, good. Touch your nose. Touch your toes. Wiggle your ears. Hands on your lap.”

Piontkowski encouraged the first-grade students to remember how they practiced inside last week, and make sure the ribbon is nice and high and straight.

“Come out. Here we go,” Piontkowski added, “Who's my next friend. Who's next? Who's next?” He and Moschella lined everyone up with a ribbon.

Moschella played fun, happy accordion music. Piontkowski reminded the students, “Don't pull too hard. How nice. Watch your spacing. That's a nice wrap you have going. Let's freeze. Change directions. Let's unwrap it.”

“Good,” Moschella said, adding, “Higher, higher. Faster, faster,” as music with a peppy bounce continued to play.

At the end, Piontkowski said, “Back up, inside friends. Back up to the end of our ribbon. Slide to the end of the ribbon. Hold it up over your head. 1, 2, 3, let it go, and we're going to blow.”

The students wove an incredibly intricate pattern with 24 ribbons, which they then perfectly unwound at the end of the dance, letting loose of their ribbons for the next group of first-graders.

The expensive ribbon is courtesy of the School and Community Association (SCA).

Moschella said, “Take a bow!”

Later, Piontkowski told Moschella, “We only have nine more times to go.”

The kindergartners then gave the first-graders a round of applause, looking forward to next year when they, too, will dance around the May Pole.

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