Ballet practice

Isabelle Mundo, 8, stretches before ballet practice at Walker School Age Center at Fort Hood.

FORT HOOD — Youth are leaping and tapping in after-school dance classes at Walker School Age Center.

Brenda Brown, instructional program specialist with Child and Youth Services, believes that the after-school dance classes give kids the opportunity to learn the basis of all dance and more about art.

“Dance is one of the arts and that’s very important for the children. They don’t teach the arts in the school so that’s something we have to learn on our own,” Brown said. “Ballet is the foundation of all dance. If they ever want to become a dancer this ballet is going to give them the grace, stamina and stability. It builds their muscles up. It’s a discipline. It’s something that they can do for life, but this is the foundation them learning just the basics.”

Isabella Mundo, 8, has been dancing since she was 6 and loves coming to dance after school. She wants to be a dancer when she grows up.

“We get to experience how to dance and it increases our heart rate,” Mundo said of her favorite part about dancing.

Instructor Ciera Jackson, who has been teaching dance for over 10 years, has a passion for kids and said she enjoys pouring her knowledge into them.

“I love watching them grow. I love when they’re really new and they’re crying and then I can’t get them to leave,” Jackson said. “I love watching them grow. Some of them start with me when they’re like 9-months because of all the classes teach and then you know (they grow) – that’s my favorite part is just working with kids.”

She believes that dance is physically challenging and can teach kids things that will last them a lifetime.

“You have to have balance, strength and flexibility and you have to be able to focus and take direction. It’s like when you do dance or anything any activity. It carries you for the rest of your life,” Jackson said. “Kind of like when you go to college if you want to dance you have to practice you have to believe you can do it and you have to study it. Same thing with college or anything that you want to do. All of those components, it’s like life lessons that helps you throughout the rest of your life.”

Jackson does many things including teaching other dance classes, the SKIES cooking class and international modeling, all while raising her two kids Apollo, 2, and Aria, 5, who has autism.

She truly understands the struggles that Army families go through every day and is proud to be a trusted part of some kid’s lives.

“I am over 35 kids’ emergency contacts because most of their parents are in the Army. It means a lot to mean especially having my spouse in the Army and having our two children. Childcare is not easy to come by especially having a child with special needs,” Jackson said. “It means so much to me to be able to teach their kids. I’m glad that they have that trust, that faith in me to know that I’m not going steer them in the wrong direction.”

Tap and ballet dance classes are held at Walker School Age Center, Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. A hip-hop class is also offered and a creative movement class for kids ages 1-3.

For more information, call 254-287-4592.