Students at Manchester’s Memorial Elementary School were treated to a lesson in Eastern social songs and dances Tuesday morning presented by the acclaimed Wampanoag Nation Singers and Dancers from Mashpee, Massasoit, Aquinnah and Herring Pond.
They were celebrating the harvest, Native American culture, and the natural world. The group sang songs, wore traditional clothing and used hand-crafted rattles and a water drum — all passed down for generations. And the visitors taught students dances, with older students taking on dance moves that grew more and more complex.
The youngest students learned a simple circle dance first. Some students learned the Robin Dance, which involved hopping from one foot to the other according to the shifting rhythm. Other students learned the Mosquito Dance, a jitterbug-like dance performed while holding one another’s pinkies — even getting the school’s principal, John Willis, to join in to this dance.
Finally, students learned the Rabbit Dance, in which partners lock arms as they move together. And at one point, one of the Native dancers went dancing out into the school’s hallways and the children followed, still dancing, moving throughout the building.
The event was sponsored by the Manchester Memorial Elementary School PTO. Working with teachers in each grade, the PTO facilitates a variety of programs encompassing music, science, culture and literature.