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Apr 14, 2016

Healthy Living Looks at a New Physical Education Program

An interesting and totally rewarding program is taking place in our neighborhood. The House of Shotokan has teamed up with Nazarene High School to develop a physical education program as part of the school’s curriculum. Now, the House of Shotokan is known for martial arts, but is now offering ballet classes to the neighbourhood students. And as is the case of martial arts, the students develop discipline, technique, commitment and importantly, they are having fun.  In tonight’s healthy living, we find out more.


Marleni Cuellar

When you think about ways to help children develop discipline and structure, usually the first things to come to mind are activities like sports and karate. But did you know that dance can help children develop those very same qualities. I’m here at the House of Shotokan Ballet Institute where Karate Instructor turned Dance Instructor, Tania Kelly, will tell us more about how dance has been benefiting the children she works with.


Tania Kelly

Tania Kelly, Manager, Primary Dance Instructor, House of Shotokan Ballet Inst.
“Well we’ve been doing karate for many years and dancing has always been something that I love; something that I did while I was studying in the states. I’ve just been practicing by myself; I never really thought about having a studio. But when we noticed that karate was doing well, we were touching the lives of youth and children and how it had been benefiting them, I told my husband, ballet would do the same thing. And there are different students that are not as good in karate, but they are great in ballet and they love dancing.  So I said why don’t we open a dance studio so that we can reach children that don’t have anything to do; that goes back home and sit and watch TV instead of doing something constructive and using their minds and developing within themselves.”


And with that thought, a year ago, the Kellys opened the House of Shotokan Ballet Institute which offers classical ballet and other dance classes to children of all ages. Teaching fundamental dance skills is only one aspect of the program.

Tania Kelly
“In our society we see more and more kids being obese here in Belize and many of time you don’t see them working out because they are small. Parents also don’t see the need for them to lose weight. So when a child comes to ballet, we do a lot of routines, a lot of exercises that I have a couple of them saying Miss look at me I already lose weight. So we see the tightening of the bones, the tendons and losing weight. What we try to do is bring discipline in the sports and we implement that in ballet by being punctual; you must be on time, you must have your uniform on and the most important in class. You gotta be focus, no talking, no laughing, no playing…so you have to dedicate that time for yourself.  And even though ballet is graceful and very relaxing, you have to maintain body posture and discipline yourself to always stay focus. And it is not easy, but by developing that, that child is able to take that discipline and apply it to school.”


Recently, House of Shotokan and Nazarene high school partnered to expand the school Physical Education program to include dance and martial arts.


Alex Gomez

Alex Gomez, PE & Homeroom Teacher, Nazarene High School

“We started as a regular PE class and we went into saying that this is an avenue of where the kids can get an extra CXC down the road. And so we started to gearing the kids towards at the end of the four years, you can take the CXC and go into sixth form as well. They learn the discipline, they learn the respect, they learn how to cooperate with other kids as well and they learn a skill with the ballet.”


Tania Kelly
“When I took CXC’s, they didn’t have sports as wide as it is now. Now you can take football, basketball, you can do martial arts and ballet as a part of it because it is dancing. So me being an educator, I decided it would be important for us to bring that program to Nazarene. So we approached the principal as far as the discipline part and the benefit that it brings and how this program will help them with the CXC down the road. So that’s how it came about as an educational program.”


For second form students Leah Lin and Edvin Florian, they never expected their high school experience to include ballet; but they have certainly embraced it.

Leah Lin

Leah Lin, 14-year-old Dance Student

“I like it. It gives you a wide span of ballet and you learn more of things you didn’t know. And it’s very fun cause you get flexible also and you loosen your muscles. It’s a new way to bring in PE instead of the same old just exercising and stretching; it’s a more unique way.”


Edvin Florian, 16-year-old Dance Student

“Actually I thought ballet was only for girls, but then when I came over here and I started to do ballet, I actually liked it.”


Marleni Cuellar

“So is it the same for all the other boys in your class?”


Edvin Florian
“Yes, all of them thought that ballet was only for girls. When they said that they were going to include ballet, all of them started to complain and they didn’t want to come over. We were forced to come and when we saw what it was about, we liked it.”


Edvin Florian

Both students and teacher agree that while the class is certainly not easy, it has improved their overall performance.
Edvin Florian
“You have to learn the steps or else you won’t pass PE class. You have to memorize all the meaning of the words and the words aren’t English so you have to learn it and memorize it.”
Leah Lin
“When you exercise you always feel better so when you go back in class you feel a little bit more lively.”


Marleni Cuellar

“Do you prefer this or playing sports outdoors?”


Leah Lin
“I prefer both, but I like ballet too.”


Alex Gomez
“Me, being the homeroom of this class that you saw today, I could see a difference. My kids are well put together; they respect everybody. They learn the music, they learn the dance and my class is copacetic. And we have no problem.”


The Shotokan Ballet Institute will be hiring a Cuban Dance professional as their primary teacher to maintain their packed schedule for dance classes. Currently all classes at Nazarene participate in the Classical Ballet class, allowing them the option to sit an additional CXC in dance as seniors. There are other classes offered to the public for anyone who’s interested in dance.


Tania Kelly

“We are not born heroes; we create heroes and it is the same thing with ballet. We are not born dancers; we teach ourselves to dance. And how do we do that? By discipline, dedication, determination and most importantly having the desire to want to dance.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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