On Friday, May 5th, our high school students will gather for their yearly dinner and dance called “Protocol.” Protocol is a formal event that all students are invited to attend. Young men are assigned a young lady to escort to dinner, where formal dinner etiquette is practiced. Everyone then proceeds to the dance portion of the evening where group style dances such as the Grand March, Virginia Reel and Posties Jig are enjoyed, and the traditional “dance-off” takes place.
All dances, including Protocol, are designed to encourage participation by all, serving each other, manners, and fun! This year, all but five students out of about 150 attended.
Below is an “Insights” article written by one of our former House governors, Ms. Anna Gibson, about the structure and intentionality of dances at Ambrose. . .
Redeeming the Dance
by Anna Gibson
Upper School Mathematics & House Governor
In a day and age where “dancing” requires the invention of new words to define its absurdity (i.e., twerking) and “music” has plummeted from the lofty heights of ingenuity and craft to auto-synthesizers, it may seem dangerously ambitious to try and hold a school dance within the walls of Ambrose. But as our classical efforts are to recover the lost tools and our Christian desire is to redeem what has been broken, such an event actually finds itself at the very crossroads of our labors here.
Mr. Tucker and I firmly believe that the “extracurriculuars” of this school can often be as character-defining and character-revealing, if not more so, than the academics and tasks of a usual day.
Dances at Ambrose are atypical in today’s culture. The dress code is formal and modest, and strictly enforced. The music is a hodgepodge of current, classical, forties, soundtracks, and classic hits (who doesn’t love the YMCA?) Almost every dance is choreographed, complex, and requires focused attention. Older students dance with younger students, as well as help lead the dances for everyone. Many of the dances are “mixers,” meaning the partner one begins with is only theirs for the first round, before they receive a new one.
From a young age (grammar school), our students are taught the simple group dances, such as the Virginia Reel, and from there, they learn increasingly complicated dances, culminating with the Postie’s Jig, a favorite amongst the students.
Our students love these dances because they are intentional, activity-filled from beginning to end, and just plain fun. Mr. Tucker and I work hard to bring something unique to every dance (last time, it was a House Lip Sync Competition) and we enjoy being there as much as the students do.
We believe these kinds of events can be culture changers just as much as our day-to-day activities. They enforce our emphasis on deference to fellow brothers and sisters: for the men in asking the ladies to dance, for the ladies, in their modesty. They allow for the older students to lead and mentor the younger students. They give many students who rarely get the spotlight an opportunity to create and serve. They give girls a chance to feel beautiful, and gentlemen a chance to see that dressing up isn’t all that bad. They give the students a wholesome outlet in which to play and laugh and interact without the stress of academics hanging over their heads. They give Mr. Tucker and I the opportunity to redeem, if only in the smallest way, something beautiful that our culture has tarnished. King David himself danced with great joy…it only seems right that we teach our students to express joy in this way as well.