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Chicken Scratch Dance Classes Held in Time for the New Year Dance

Johnny Robles and his dance partner learn the vaila during the beginning chicken scratch classes held at the Salt River Community building on December 15.

On December 15, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member Colleen Stone hosted a two-day chicken scratch dance class for beginners and for those pros who needed to brush up on their dance skills. Seven Community members put their dancing fears aside and danced alongside each other at the Salt River Community Building.

“This has been going on for a while, but lately I’ve been getting a lot of requests from Community members who want to learn how to do the different dances, which are the vaila (one-step), the chota (two-step) and the cumbia (freestyle) dance,” said Stone. “A lot of the Community members don’t really dance as much as when you go down farther south, a lot of them dance more. There’s also some that just never learned. A lot of them said they want to learn before the New Year’s Eve dance.”

The couples took each other onto the dance floor, putting their dance skills to the test.
Stone showed her dance participants step-by-step instructions and walked them through each dance. They had the confidence to dance alone and with a partner. They danced in lines and in circles as the chicken scratch music lingered in the Community Building.

Stone said, “I love to dance. Me and my family, we compete and we love to dance. When you get out there and dance, it lets the bands know that you like their music, and they’re appreciative of it. They play more when they see you out there dancing.”

Shannon Reina and her dance partner count their steps while learning the chota.
“When I was little, my family used to have dances all the time,” said class participant Shannon Reina. “My aunts, uncles, grandma and grandpa danced all the time. I kind of forgot that, and as soon as I saw this class advertised, I signed up right away.”

Dance student Johnny Robles added, “We’re doing what our culture has always been doing. If you really wanted to learn and you feel that, it’s really good.”