Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ursuline's Dancers Help Accentuate Catholic Schools

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ursuline's Dancers Help Accentuate Catholic Schools

Article excerpt

Dancers of Ursuline Academy shimmied and shined last week at a performance before students at Mary Queen of Peace School in Webster Groves, in celebration of Catholic Schools Week.

Sitting on the floor of the gymnasium, the students in kindergarten t hrough eighth grade oohed and aahed as the dancers gracefully executed difficult movements. Dances to familiar hits such as "Pocahontas" and "A Chorus Line" were automatic crowd pleasers.

Ursuline dance instructor Jean Woodward brought a troupe of 18 dancers to perform 10 dances. The repertoire consisted of ballet, pointe, contemporary jazz, tap and hip-hop pieces.

After the performance, John Doyle, a seventh-grader, said, "I liked the jazz best. It was exciting."

In contrast, Julie Grigaitis, also a seventh-grader, said, "The ballet was the best because it was interesting."

Judy Thatcher, assistant principal of Mary Queen of Peace, said the idea was to introduce the students to opportunities available at Catholic high schools. The week also included performances by St. Louis University High School's Varsity Chorus and Circus, and by Christian Brothers College high school's Liturgical Tendencies.

Ursuline offers a four-year dance program in which students with no dance background or with years of experience can sign up for classes. Students receive one-half credit in fine arts for dance class. More than 140 students take advantage of the program.

Sophomore Julie Venegoni, who has danced since she was 4, said the dance program "was one of the main reasons I picked Ursuline. I love to dance, and it really got my attention."

"Dance is such an opportunity to develop poise and grace," Woodward said. "The program also provides a channel for expression."

Dancers perform at Ursuline at the fall open house, the Christmas recital and a spring performance.

Woodward, who has a degree in physical education, has taught dance at Ursuline for five years. As a teen-ager, she learned from Marilyn Mur, who began Ursuline's dance program 20 years ago. …

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