The Program

We don’t teach dance. We teach students.

Conga Kids is an arts-in-education program that promotes social-emotional wellness through partner-dance. Through our highly structured approach to dance instruction, Conga Kids strives to teach critical interpersonal communication skills, build paths to conflict resolution, and establish a foundation of respect, teamwork, confidence, and leadership. Our principal goal is to shift the way students view themselves, their peers, and their communities.

Focusing on five core dances – Merengue, Foxtrot, Salsa, Tango, and Swing – the Conga Kids dance curriculum naturally integrates with California Content Standards for Physical Education and Visual and Performing Arts, while also supporting English Language Arts and History-Social Science standards. In addition to learning and completing physical movements, students also develop language and contextual understanding around the dances, learning the significance of movements, rhythms, and symbolism of dance in a cultural and historical context.

Our ten week, twenty-lesson program is offered twice yearly (fall and spring semesters), culminating in a grade-level showcase for families, teachers, and younger students. During each lesson, masterful resident teaching artists introduce new steps and vocabulary and reinforce known material through practice and repetition. Classes also include written homework assignments, a professional demonstration by guest artists, administrative support and quality control via a team of program liaisons, and options to participate in local and regional competitions against schools from across Los Angeles County.

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Core Principles

As a program based on building community, self-confidence, and trust, Conga Kids utilizes two core principles: respect and the circle.

RESPECT

Conga Kids believes in a network of mutual respect. Upon entering a Conga Kids class, all students, teaching artists, and classroom teachers enter a contract of mutual respect:

Teaching artists will:

  • Always address students as “ladies and gentlemen”

    • Our goal is to shift the way students see themselves and each other

  • Reinforce essential elements of a respectful ballroom class

    • Tall posture, active listening, proper partner-dance position, etc.

  • Attempt to address all students by their name

  • Review knowledge and skills as needed until students show mastery

Students will:

  • Raise hands when contributing to class discussions

  • Address the teaching artist as “Ms.” or “Mr.”

  • Execute a firm “job interview handshake” and say “thank you” when switching partners

  • Stand up tall and engage in active listening

  • Walk in and out of class with a partner in escort position

  • Dance in proper partner-dance position

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Everyone Deserves Respect

Conga Kids respects every child’s gender identity, and will work with schools to establish protocol for students who identify as transgender, non-binary, etc.

THE CIRCLE

The circle is a symbol of our community and trust. We use the circle within the following guidelines:

  • All dances are taught in the circle, with the exception of the Solo Salsa and Electric Slide

  • Teaching Artists utilize the center of the circle as their instructional area

  • Students enter in escort position and form their circle in a counter-clockwise direction

  • Students frequently rotate to switch partners (Ladies in one direction, Gentleman the other)

 

 

Mr. Fernando at Esteban Torres High School

Conga Kids: Traditions

CK Traditions is our new arts-integration pilot program for middle and high schoolers that explores the journey of African Dance, Music, and Culture as they intermingled with indigenous Caribbean and American cultures to create the social-dances we know and love today!