This year's performance, entitled the "Multi-Cultural Folk Dance Celebration," featured music and dances from several countries, including Mexico, Romania, France, Italy, Kenya, Australia, China, Scotland, Russia and the Bahamas.
The performance was directed by Joanna Pang Atkins, who is a professional actress and children's choreographer.
Pang Atkins was first assigned to the students of Roosevelt School last year from the group Arts Horizon, a theater-teaching cooperative in New York. The district received a grant from the 9/11 Foundation to give the students of Weehawken a chance to learn more about the arts.
The program was so successful last year that they decided to bring Pang Atkins back again to work with the students.
"Joanna did an outstanding job," Roosevelt School Principal Anthony LaBruno said. "Not only did the students learn the respective dances, but they learned about the countries where the dances came from."
Pang Atkins came to Roosevelt School one day every week since October to work with the students on the production, using a portion of the regularly scheduled physical education classes to rehearse and learn the dances.
Roosevelt School physical education teacher Joe Perez had no problem with surrendering portions of his classroom sessions to Pang Atkins.
"Joanne had such a great rapport with the students," Perez said. "She does this kind of work in other schools, so she was accustomed to working with the kids. It takes a little while for the students to get used to it, but once they get into it, they really enjoy it. This year, Joanne really got into it with the different costumes and the colors. For me, it's definitely a change of pace. I learned a lot of things myself about Africa, Mongolia, other countries. It's a nice way for the students to learn and to get a taste of culture from different countries."
The students also had a great time learning all the different dances and cultures.
Sixth grader Christian Spencer was particularly impressed with a Romanian dance called "Alunelul," which is a slide-step dance. In English, it's translated to hazelnut.
"I was also able to learn a lot about Romania," Spencer said. "It's said that there were vampires there, that Dracula had a castle there."
Fifth grader Maryelena Caballero had fun learning about the "Mexican Clap Dance."
"It was basically a dance with the same motion as a polka or a waltz, but you throw your hands up in the air and clap," Caballero explained. "It's part of the Mexican culture. It was nice learning things about different countries."
Caballero wanted to learn more about other lands, because her parents are from El Salvador and Honduras.
"I want to learn more about all the countries," Caballero said.
LaBruno said that the students really enjoy working with a professional actress and choreographer like Pang Atkins. "They received Joanna so well and had so much respect for her," LaBruno said. "They were excited about coming to class and learning the dances. They wanted her to feel proud of them."
LaBruno was also impressed with the performance.
"There was a sense of electricity, especially since it was the first show in the new auditorium," LaBruno said. "The environment was electric. The show was fantastic and the kids performed very well. It was definitely a very successful night."
As part of the festivities, LaBruno presented Julia Barone an award of appreciation from the Roosevelt School Parent-Teacher Organization as recognition for her continuous hard work and dedication to the school.
As for the dancing, just ask the students how successful it was.
"It was just a lot of fun," Caballero said. "It was a lot of work rehearsing and learning, but it was worth it, because it was a great experience and a lot of fun."
"It was a lot of fun to get all the people in the audience to participate with the dance in the final number," Spencer said. "We told everyone to get up to dance to a rock and roll number. It was a lot of fun. I've done this before. I remember when I first performed, I had some nervousness, but not now. It was dancing and learning and I would be glad to do it again."