Dancing Classrooms - Transforming Lives One Step At A Time.

Organization Sponsor: Dancing Classrooms

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Program Description

Dancing Classrooms is an in-school social and emotional learning program that cultivates essential life skills in fifth and eighth grade children though the practice of ballroom dance. The Dancing Classrooms program transforms girls and boys into mature, self-reliant, and elegant young ladies and gentlemen during its 10-week residencies. With core values of respect, compassion and creating a safe space, Dancing Classrooms Teaching Artists create environments and model behaviors that offer children a place to thrive during their school day. Principals, teachers and parents have praised our program for developing important skills and behaviors in their students, including civility, respect, teamwork and self-discipline.

Our mission is to cultivate essential life skills in children through the practice of social dance. Our vision is to help create Schools and communities where every child is connected, respected, and provided a safe environment in which to thrive. Dancing Classrooms NYC, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, was founded by Pierre Dulaine in 1994.

Dancing Classrooms is a 10-week – 20 session social development program for 5th and 8th grade children that utilizes ballroom dancing as a vehicle to change the lives of not only the children who participate in the program but also the lives of the teachers and parents who support these children. The dance is a tool for getting the children to break down social barriers, learn about honor and respect, treat others carefully, improve self-confidence, communicate and cooperate, and accept others even if they are different. We take the dance that is inherent in students’ bodies and help them to bring it out, not force it in, enabling students to increase their pride and self-esteem as they learn.

After they finish their residency, all students are invited to continue their dance education at our Dancing Classrooms Academy. The Academy is held weekends throughout the school year at our home studio in Herald Square. The cost to attend is minimal.

Funding Sources: 

New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, John N. Blackman, Sr. Foundation,Royal Caribbean,Orphanides and Associates, Johnson and Johnson,World Federation of Ballroom Dancers, Knickerbocker Cotillion, Bloomberg Philanthropies,The Lucius N. Littauer Foundation,Bloomberg Philanthropies,The Brenner Family Foundation,The Randleigh Foundation Trust,Elaine Dannheisser Foundation, The Thomas S. Kenan Foundation, The Harkness Foundation for Dance, William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, 

Strategies For Sustainability: 

Based in New York City, Dancing Classrooms is a very special, innovative and distinctively effective "social and emotional learning" (SEL) non-profit that achieves in 10 weeks (20 sessions) through a proprietary ballroom dance curriculum what most SEL programs take a few years to accomplish. Working with upper elementary and middle school students in the US and internationally, Dancing Classrooms transforms previously disaffected girls and boys into mature, self-reliant, highly motivated, elegant young ladies and gentlemen who are successful team players. Where school leadership adopts the Dancing Classrooms philosophy and methodology, entire school cultures are often remade, again in a surprisingly short period of time, into supportive, learning-enhancing environments based on mutual respect, courtesy, and cross-cultural understanding. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Dancing Classrooms currently serves more than 42,000 students each year in over 30 cities or regions.

Impact Of Program: 

Our mission is to cultivate essential life skills in children through the practice of social dance. Our vision is to meaningfully participate in the development of schools and communities where every child is connected, respected, and provided a safe environment in which to thrive.

Hundreds of passionate people from the US and other international sites are working within their communities to bring dancing classrooms to their 5th and 8th grade children.

As of January 1, 2012, Dancing Classrooms is a part of the following communities: New York City, Newark, Omaha, Fort Worth/Dallas, Toronto, Philadelphia, Suffolk County (NY), Fort Myers (FL), Florida Keys (FL), Cleveland, Lake Charles (LA), Geneva (Switz), Pittsburgh, St. Louis, US Virgin Islands, Western Maryland, Winston-Salem, Seattle, Phoenix, Zurich (Switz), Los Angeles, Southeast Florida, Israel and Amman, Jordan.

During the 2010-11 school year, 42,000 children in 509 schools received the Dancing Classroomsprogram. 

Key Elements Towards Success: 

Dancing Classrooms uses a curriculum-based teaching approach to achieve social awareness and build self-esteem.  Students are taught the vocabulary of various contemporary social dances in a classroom setting.  Each class in the series introduces new steps, reinforcing what has been previously learned through practice and repetition. 

Challenges To Meet Them: 

Dancing is about connections–to our friends, to our families, to our neighbors. It is one of the most expressive ways we celebrate and communicate our cultures and communities. With Dancing Classrooms, we are able to reach children in existing classroom settings and address fundamental issues of mutual respect and self-esteem – issues that social dance puts into practice. We hope to inspire children through dance to do well, to respect one another, to be proud. This program is about more than dance, it is about teaching children to take a bow.”

Length and Stage of Project: 

American Ballroom Theater, Inc. (ABrT) was founded in August 1984 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Pierre Dulaine, Yvonne Marceau and Otto Cappel were the original founders of ABrT.

In 1994 Pierre volunteered to teach a dance class at the Professional Performing Arts School on West 48th Street in Manhattan. From this beginning, Pierre developed Dancing Classrooms, a 10 week – 20 session social development program for 5th grade children that utilizes ballroom dancing as a vehicle to change the lives of not only the children who participate in the program but also the lives of the teachers and parents who support these children.

In the Spring of 2010, American Ballroom Theater changed its name to Dancing Classrooms.

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