More than 2,300 students staged a ribbon dance at The Music Center Plaza in downtown Los Angeles Thursday with a dual purpose: to set a Guinness World Record and take advantage of an opportunity to perform in public.
The students, mostly fifth-graders, from throughout Los Angeles County schools danced as part of the 45th Annual Blue Ribbon Children's Festival. On hand was Philip Robertson, an official Guinness adjudicator, along with parents, teachers and festival organizers.
The effort was organized chaos; students held sticks with ribbon streamers and spun along to the beat.
"I was so excited, my heart was kind of actually racing," said Tandi Boyd, a fourth-grader who attended the event.
Organizers said for many of the students, it was their first chance to dance before an audience. Last year, a KPCC survey of Southern California school districts found that dance is the least likely art form to be taught, compared to music, theater and the visual arts.
State law requires school districts to offer all four forms of the arts for first through 12th grade.
"Our school is lucky," said Charnock Road Elementary teacher Erick Barrios, as he attended the event with his students. "I know some schools don't have dance at all, so I'm grateful that we do have different art programs at our school."
Jan Blunt, a teacher at Loyola Village Elementary School, said her school has established a tradition to bring fifth graders to the festival every year.
"They need movement," Blunt said. "With concentration and with purpose. So different from just being out on the playground playing."
After a few minutes of colorful, choreographed dancing, the students got the word: "You've set a new Guinness world record!" Robertson said.
The students went wild. Two girls watching in the front row grabbed each other by the arms and shrieked with job.
For Robertson, who is based in New York, it was a chance to tick off one event from his to-do list. Among his next stops is a visit to Oceanside, where he'll judge another record attempt: this one for holding the longest plank exercise.