Godfrey Muwulya had never seen a flake of snow until his recent stay on the Vineyard.

For four weeks Mr. Muwulya, a native dancer from Uganda, has been teaching traditional dances from his country to fifth and sixth grade social studies students at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School, courtesy of the education department at The Yard.

At a performance Thursday afternoon, it didn't appear that deep snow or bitter cold were bothering Mr. Muwulya at all. He was barefoot and shirtless in traditional Ugandan costume, stomping his feet with links of bells ringing around his calves. He wore a feathery blond headpiece and a fluffy red skirt and when he spun his body he looked like fire.

Following his act were the fifth graders, who performed a war dance with rowing motions and flowing skirts. Sixth graders danced to the strict beat of Mr. Muwulya on drums and transitioned to the soft strings of his cow skin guitar. As a finale, both grades clapped, jumped and spun together in a call and response song that had the energy of a parade.

Afterward, Mr. Muwulya spoke about the significance of dance in his country’s culture. In Uganda there are 57 tribes, each with its own language, he said. English is taught in schools and is a unifying language, but the tribes also communicate and even compete through dance. Ugandan people dance for weather, for food, for drink, for marriage, for war, for peace — and also just to dance.

“When you want water in Uganda, you don’t say, oh hey, let’s go to the tap. No! Get a pot! Go down the stream a few miles. When children go to fetch the water, before, they must dance. Then they get to the water and dance more,” he said.

Another reason Ugandans dance is for warmth, Mr. Muwulya said. The final dance the grades performed together was from a mountain region in Uganda.

Godfrey Muwulya is on the Vineyard to teach charter school students dance in conjunction with the education department at The Yard. — Katie Ruppel

“It gets a bit cold in the mountains, not like snow,” he laughed. “But, when it gets cold, you know what they do? Dance. This jumping dance. It warms the body so quickly. You don’t have to put on a jacket. You have a cold body? Go outside and do this dance.”

Despite the cold, the students gave Mr. Muwulya a treat he especially enjoys: ice cream. They also presented him and Yard teachers Jesse Keller and Holly Jones with thank-you notes.

A few months ago, Ms. Keller, The Yard’s director of Island programs and education, received a grant to incorporate dance into the schools’ curriculum. She approached teachers asking if they would be interested, and social studies teacher Amy Reece said yes.

“Here is a global life experience that they could have that I knew every child in the class could access,” Ms. Reece said. “Because if they are not great readers, they are great athletes. If not athletes, then artists. If not artists, then something else. So every child in my classroom has gifts, and I felt this experience would access those gifts.”

Her fifth grade students had been studying the slave trade in colonial America, while the sixth graders had been studying geography and culture of Africa.

“Think about what you hear about Africa in the news,” she said. “It’s not good. Ebola, starving children. You don’t get any of the joy or magic of that country.”

Mr. Muwulya not only taught the children dances but told stories and talked about the customs of his country: foods they enjoy, temperatures they endure, and spiritual beliefs.

Most importantly, Ms. Reece said his charisma and warmth will have a lasting impression on the children.

Before the students left school, she had a small surprise for them.

“I have to tell you, you were amazing. Your energy, your enthusiasm — no one opted out. I wanted to thank you, so in honor of Godfrey, I brought you ice cream sandwiches.” The children cheered, and each came up to thank Mr. Muwulya.

“It truly was an honor for him to come all the way from Uganda just to teach us to dance,” said sixth grader Jonathan Chivers. “The dances were exciting, and very different than the hokey pokey.”

His sister Josie Chivers said she normally dances hip hop, which has a lot of energy.

“But African dance — it’s really, really energetic,” Josie said. “Godfrey made me smile a lot. I’m going to miss him.”

After the last goodbyes, Mr. Muwulya put on pink socks and loafers, gathered his instruments, and headed back into the snow.