Sunset Elementary students showcase their dance skills |

Sunset Elementary students showcase their dance skills

First-grader Iesha Martinez, center right, do-si-dos with dance partner Jerik Felten on Thursday afternoon during Sunset Elementary School's daylong dance program. Students in every grade spent the past two weeks learning square dance steps as well as dances from across the world.
Andy Bockelman

— The annual Diamonds & Spurs dance may not be until Saturday, but the younger set in Craig just couldn’t wait for its chance to cut a rug.

Sunset Elementary School hosted a day of dance performances Thursday, with students from kindergarten through fifth grade displaying their fancy footwork in the school gym. Since returning from winter break, kids learned a variety of dance steps in combined music and physical education classes during the course of the past two weeks.

“It’s so much fun seeing the kids from the very beginning and seeing that growth and what they do,” said music teacher Amanda Peltier, who worked with PE teacher Susan Nicholson to teach the steps.

Most of the dances the students learned were square dances, as well as group dances from across the globe, including Greece, Mexico, Israel, South Africa, Russia and other countries. Students also finished each show with a dance in line formation — the conga and “Macarena” for kindergartners, “The Hustle” for first-graders and Katy Perry’s “Firework” for second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-graders.

“The line dance was the most fun,” third-grader Billy Lawton said, an opinion shared by classmate Easton Eckroth.

Numerous parents and other family members were in the crowd, some for multiple grade levels. As the mother of a fifth-grader and a first-grader, Katrina Geis was glad to see her children engage in something both energetic and educational.

“It’s good for them to see that besides going out and shaking your booty, there’s something to learn about other cultures,” she said.

Nicholson said she and Peltier plan a mix of different contemporary and classical routines each year, ones that can be learned in a short amount of time. Kindergartners have the simplest steps, and the process gets more complex as the students get older.

Nicholson added that students who begin attending Sunset in the higher grade levels pick things up as a result of watching their classmates who have been enrolled in the school longer.

“It’s amazing how well they learn,” she said.

Fifth-grader Aubrey Shubert said this year’s program was much easier for her, with the previous year being the first time she experienced the dance program.

“Last year, I was still in the phase of learning, so it wasn’t so challenging this time,” she said.

Aubrey and classmate Cristiann Reyes, both 11, agreed being able to dress nicely and dance for a day is one of their favorite parts of the school year. Cristiann has been at Sunset since kindergarten, learning a great deal of dance numbers year by year.

“They get more complicated, but it’s fun learning them,” Cristiann said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or

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