Young Dancers Move to Old Standards at Manhattan Youth's Spring Concert

Second and third graders from P.S. 89 and P.S. 234 hip hop classes dance to the 1970s disco hit, "Daddy Cool." Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Jun. 13, 2019

Oldies but goodies, from Liza Minelli, Frank Sinatra, James Brown, the Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls and more brought a refreshing musical twist (including the Twist!) to Manhattan Youth’s annual spring dance concerts on Saturday. Nearly 400 children from the after-school dance classes of six elementary schools and the Downtown Community Center took the stage of P.S. 89 in two performances of “Dancing Through the Decades,” with choreography inspired by classics from the past 70 or so years.

Samplings from one of two "Dancing Around the Decades" shows, this one by after-school students from P.S. 234, P.S. 89, P.S. 276 and the Downtown Community Center. The other show featured dancers from P.S. 343, P.S. 397 and P.S. 225. Costumes are designed by Constance Tarbox; set design by Jamie Watkins. Photos by Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Though most of the classes are hip hop, everybody—the counselors, the dance teachers and the kids—welcomed the pop classics, said Susan Kay, the shows’ director. “If you bring a song into the class and it resonates with you and you’re excited about it, the kids will be excited,” Kay said. “And it’s our job as educators to expand their knowledge, whether its music or dance or whatever it is.”

Getting away from hip hop tunes, and returning to older musical genres had another benefit, Kay noted. “I didn’t have to screen the lyrics of the songs,” she said, “and that was really nice.”