Youths learn new steps at recreation center

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Curt Yeomans


Ballet student, Corinne Knight, was dreaming of greatness on Monday.

Knight, 7, was one of several students taking a ballet class at the Jim Huie Recreation Center, in Jonesboro. As part of the class, she is learning not only how to do ballet steps gracefully, but also how to tap dance, and perform "jazz walking."

Her dream is to become a professional dancer, some day.

"I want to do ballet," she said. "I'm going to become a great ballerina by learning how to do ballet."

The Jim Huie Recreation Center offers two classes -- which focus on ballet, tap and jazz dancing -- to local youths every Monday. The first class, which has an enrollment of 20 students, is for children ages 3 to 5. The second class, which has an enrollment of 15 children, is for older children who are between the ages of 6 and 10.

The classes are taught by East Point resident, Sherona Mumphery, 24, who has studied dance since she was 3, and was a member of the Laker Girls dance team at Clayton State University, from 2004 to 2008.

"As with many children, their attention spans are short, so I try to rotate the routines [between ballet, tap and jazz dancing] for them," Mumphery said. "However, little kids learn through repetition, so I still have them do a step as often as possible, so it will soak in."

Mumphery said the classes are offered in six-week sessions. A new session began on Monday. She added that the students also do two recitals during the year. One is a "spring" recital, which is done in June, when the students are getting out of school for the summer, she said. She added that the other recital is held at Christmas time.

The students spend the six-week session continuously learning one routine, but it starts off as only a couple of steps at first, Mumphery said. "I add a few new steps each week, so they will have a whole dance routine by the end of the six weeks," she said.

Mumphery said all of her students are doing well already, and most of the pupils in the class for the older children have been studying with her since they were in the age 3-to-5 class.

"All of them have a passion for dancing," she said. "I never have to drag any of them into class. They want to be here."

Jasmyn Plange-Ogoe, 4, a student in the class for younger children, said, "I like this class because it's fun ... I like the jazz dancing the most because we do the walking steps ['jazz walking'] across the room." The "jazz walking" can be done in different styles. The younger children did more of a strut, while the older students did a hop every two steps.

Nyasia Smith, 6, and Chalynn Sutton-Hall, 5, students in the class for the older children, said they prefer tap dancing, though. "I like the taps because they can make different sounds," Smith said.

"I like tap because they [the shoes] have heels, and because they are shiny," said Sutton-Hall.

It costs $20 to sign up for one of the classes. Students are also required to have a leotard, a pair of tights, ballet shoes, tap shoes, and jazz shoes for the class, Mumphery said.

For more information about the classes, call the Jim Huie Recreation Center at (678) 479-5136.