First lady Michelle Obama brought an inspirational message to elementary school students in Washington, D.C., on Friday.
And she also brought her dance skills.
The first lady showed off her moves, dancing to the classic James Brown tune “Doing it to Death” (perhaps better known as as “We’re Gonna Have a Funky Good Time”) as she played a game of “freeze dance” with kids at Savoy Elementary School.
The children had clearly been prepared for the event. When the teacher asked, “Who knows James Brown?” the classroom erupted.
“Who is James Brown?” she asked.
“The Godfather of Soul!”
For students at Savoy, dancing in the classroom is part of the lesson plan. The school is one of eight in D.C. recently engaged in the Turnaround Arts Initiative, which means they’ve adopted a curriculum that uses the arts to improve school culture and foster academic achievement.
The first lady was not the only celebrity on hand. Actress Kerry Washington, star of the hit TV series Scandal, was there as well, fulfilling her role as the school’s arts ambassador.
Mrs. Obama encouraged the students to take risks. “I want you guys to be free to try new things and not be afraid to fail, because we have all failed,” she said. “I have failed at things. Things have been really hard for me at times, but all I had to do was keep going and keep working hard.”
“But when you work hard and you invest thousands of hours in anything, you get better,” she added. “Hopefully you are learning that with your math, with your reading, with your dancing, with your singing–it’s about the amount of effort that you want to put into anything.”
“So I want you guys to be fearless–do you know what being fearless means? Not just being fearless–just being cool–I want you to be fearless learners. I want you to ask questions, take some risks. Don’t be embarrassed when you don’t know something.”