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KDES students show off dance moves at H Street Festival

Image: "Swing Ya Rag," KDES dancers stepped out on the street at the "H" Street Festival. The audience loved it! (Photo: Matt Vita)

"Swing Ya Rag," KDES dancers stepped out on the street at the "H" Street Festival. The audience loved it! (Photo: Matt Vita)

The H Street Festival held in September drew an estimated 100,000 people and included more than 50 artists and 80 performances on 10 stages to celebrate this dynamic neighborhood. The Kendall Demonstration Elementary School (KDES) dancers were the youngest artists at this year’s festival and drew a great crowd response to their two dance numbers performed in the Gallaudet University stage area—“Shake Ya Rag,” and “Let’s Move.”

The KDES dancers kicked off the festival with a street happening of their own. Students and a large number of their families paraded with teachers and staff from the Gallaudet campus through the local neighborhood to the H Street stage site. “As we got closer to H Street, the students and families started to see all the food stalls, exhibits, and vendors. It was all I could do to keep the group together and not be lured off by the aromas of the food to taste!” said KDES family educator Tara Miles, who also teaches performing arts.

The students led off the Gallaudet show with two dances. The first number, “Shake Ya Rag,” was a reprise of a popular dance number they had performed on stage at last year’s Model Secondary School for the Deaf Winter Dance Concert. “Our second number, ‘Let’s Move,’ combined dance and exercise, and we pulled in some fun audience participation,” said Miles. “We’ve been incorporating First Lady Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ campaign goals to fight childhood obesity through encouraging exercise and good eating habits. Combining exercise moves with dance really motivates our students to want to get up and move.”

The H Street Festival is hosted by H Street Main Street, a nonprofit organization with a mission to celebrate and promote the vibrant H Street corridor. For the third year in a row, Gallaudet community members gave performances throughout the day. The 8th Street and Gallaudet stages had interpreters, including deaf-blind/low vision, to make the performances accessible for all audiences.