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Tarrytown Kids Learn Latin History Through Dance


TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – A group of kids learned Monday in Tarrytown that the history of Latin America can be found within a few simple dance steps.


Jessi Patz and Felix Pitre III, co-founders and artistic directors of the New York City-based Ground Grippers Dance Company, showcased and taught many traditional Latin dances such as the tango and merengue to kids at Warner Library.


Patz and Pitre showed off their skills after giving a brief history lesson on each dance. The many kids in attendance clapped to keep the beat and then got to try some of the moves themselves.


Pitre demonstrated dance steps with his own brand of humor.


“I call it 'Shake What Your Momma Gave You,'” he said when showing the kids how to sway their hips during a merengue.


The long history of the samba was another point Patz and Pitre stressed.


"Samba is a really great dance," Patz said. "It's been around forever.


"500 years!" Pitre said.


"And it's still evolving," Patz added.


Ground Grippers combines contemporary modern and jazz dances with the Lindy Hop, which Patz said is their favorite dance. In addition to swing dancing, Patz and Pitre teach other forms of dances to groups throughout the greater New York City area. Patz also works with the Tarrytown YMCA.


“One of our main goals is to bring social dancing into the next generation, into schools, so kids are aware of social dancing and to make it a more common thing,” Patz said.

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