Las Bellas

PERFORMANCE READY — Members of the Las Bellas Latin Youth Dance Team, which includes students from Charles Warren Fairbanks School 105, will perform on Dec. 10 at the Indiana Pacers pregame show inside Banker’s Life Fieldhouse.

When the Indiana Pacers take on the Washington Wizards at 7 p.m. Dec. 10 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, several students from Charles Warren Fairbanks School 105 will also be on the court.

Instead of shooting 3-pointers with the Blue and Gold, these students will show off the Latin dance moves they’ve learned this semester as members of the Las Bellas Youth Latin Dance Team.

The students, who range from first- to fifth-graders, have learned various dances, from the merengue to the cha-cha, bachata, mambo, samba and more.

“For two minutes and 30 seconds, they will get a chance to showcase part of the routine they learned this season. The team will perform during the pregame show, before tipoff,” said Fallon Coleman, who created the youth dance team, which consists of 16 girls (eight of them attend Charles Warren Fairbanks).

Kalise J. and Alexa P., two of the dancers from the IPS school on the city’s eastside are excited to show the hometown crowd what they’ve learned.

“I’m going to have fun and try my best to do the dance as good as we practiced it at school,” said 9-year-old Kalise, a fourth-grader.

“I’m nervous, but I’m going to try to dance good,” said 7-year-old Alexa P., a second-grader.

Coleman started the team in 2017 to expose inner city students to something other than traditional hip-hop dances and rhythms.

“For me, it’s an opportunity for our students to be exposed to a different rhythm and a different style of dancing, and to be able to give them culturally enriching opportunities to meet different styles of dancing and understand it,” said Coleman, who started studying Latin dance while a student at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind.

Coleman is an administrative judge for the Department of Agriculture in the National Appeals Division, but dance is her passion. She’s hoping to use the disciplines learned through the art form to help students. “My goal is to use dance as a vehicle to inspire greatness,” said Coleman.

The Latin youth dance team is under Coleman’s Alexander Coleman Dance Company, housed in the Circle City Industrial Complex on the eastside of Indianapolis. The company specializes in in Latin rhythms, but also includes afro-house and even some hip-hop.

“We’re like 85 percent Latin and 15 percent other styles of dance, which is where you get the fusion,” said Coleman.

Since starting the team, students have performed throughout the city, including the Circle City Classic Parade and most recently at the International Festival. They also have a full performance schedule in December, while balancing their school work.

The Bellas, as they are affectionately called, will perform today, Dec. 7, during open house festivities for the Alexander Coleman Dance Company, at the Pacers game on Dec. 10, and during the IPS School Board Meeting on Dec. 20.

After that, the team will take a break until dance sessions start back up in February for another six weeks, according to Tiffany M. Parker, the parent involvement educator at Charles Warren Fairbanks.

Parker, who stays after school on Mondays with the girls for dance rehearsal, was initially surprised at how many students gravitated to the team’s Latin dance styles. But she’s glad they did. (The team started with around 20 girls from Charles Warren Fairbanks. Parker said the numbers will pick up again after cheerleading season is over.)

“It’s a different culture. Right now, all over Indianapolis, you’re seeing kids doing the majorette style of dance, but our students are learning a different style of dance, which makes them more well-rounded and can help them in high school and in college,” said Parker.

For the girls involved, it simply fulfills their love for dancing, performing and camaraderie. “I like that most of my friends are there, and I like the music and the dances that we do,” added Kalise.