By Anna Skinner
On May 22, Hazel Dell Elementary students participated in a Maypole dance to celebrate spring. Cars filled the parking lots and overflowed into the grass alongside the road to the school, and parents circled around the Maypole to watch their kids participate in the celebration.
Normally the dance takes place closer to the beginning of May for May Day, but the teachers didn’t want to interfere with ISTEP testing.
Students from all grade levels were able to do a dance around the Maypole, which was sculpted personally by Joe LaMantia from Bloomington. The students from each grade did a different dance.
“Maypoles were originally created from sapling trees,” Tamara Loewenthal, dance specialist, said. “Two or three students from each class are chosen for the performance. The art, music, gym and computer lab teachers keep lists so that different students are used each year. Everyone gets an experience.”
Loewenthal doesn’t teach at Hazel Dell Elementary, although she comes to teach the kids how to dance.
Maypole dancing was originally popularized in Great Britain, Germany and Italy, and Loewenthal thought it was a great way for students to learn about spring and celebrate it. The different colored ribbons around the pole sculpture are supposed to represent all the flowers that bloom in spring.
The celebration lasted 45 minutes, and kids also read poems about springs to complement their dancing.
To learn more about Maypole dancing and its history, visit http://www.maypoledance.com.