Art at E.L.L.I.S.

Skarling Ovalles put her legs over the back of her chair and lay in the seat so that her jet-black hair was touching the ground.

When the music started, it’s deep bass filling the room, she ran her hand up her stomach to her face. Suddenly, she spun around and placed her feet on the floor before pushing one thin leg out into a dramatic split. After a few more moves, Skarling’s partner came over, picked her up off the ground and spun her through the air. 

Minutes later, the teacher, a frizzy-haired blonde wearing all black who goes simply by Ms. Evangelina, stopped the class and gave the boys in the room a lesson in how to seductively stroke the hair of their female ballroom dancing partners. 

“You’re not pressing a doorbell, you’re touching a woman!” Ms. Evangelina boomed. 

Many students at the English Language Learners and International Support Preparatory Academy on the Kennedy campus were enmeshed in similarly exciting classes on Monday, filling the school’s hallways with hip-hop music, percussion and shouts.

The unorthodox classes, which include drumming, modern dance, visuals arts, violin, capoeria and tae kwon do, are part of E.L.L.I.S.’s partnership with the Bronx Arts Ensemble, which provides the school with instructors three days a week so students can take electives in an art of their choice. 

E.L.L.I.S. students are from all over the world, including West Africa, Bangladesh, Yemen and many Spanish-speaking countries, and are learning English for the first time.  But the art classes allow them to communicate and express themselves in a universal language. 

“There’s an opportunity to express themselves,” assistant principal Renee Ehle said.  

Page 1 / 3