Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA)

At Dancing Classrooms, we strive to create learning environments in which all children, regardless of racial or gender identity, social or class status, ethnic background or country of origin, range of emotional or physical abilities, or any other classification, will cultivate essential life skills and experience the defiant joy of social dance in all its forms. Read on to learn more about how we are continually assessing, practicing, celebrating, and committing to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibilty (IDEA) in our work.

Culturally Responsive & Sustaining EducationGender Diversity & InclusionOrganizational Updates

CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE & SUSTAINING EDUCATION

Dancing Classrooms works each day to apply the values and framework of the Dulaine Method to all that it does. This applies especially to our work with young people. In addition, we are dedicated to fostering a workplace where lifelong learning is supported. As such, Dancing Classrooms continues to evaluate and reflect on its work, and look for ways that advancements in education, dance, and culture can be embedded into our practice and curriculum. One such practice is Culturally Responsive & Sustaining Education (CR-SE). Dancing Classrooms seeks to deepen its commitment to our foundational values of Respect and Compassion, Safe Space, and Powerful Language (Physical & Verbal) by intentionally incorporating CR-SE into our programs and curriculum.

What Is CR-SE?

The New York State Education Department defines CR-SE as: Culturally responsive-sustaining education is grounded in a cultural view of learning and human development in which multiple expressions of diversity (e.g., race, social class, gender, language, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, ability) are recognized and regarded as assets for teaching and learning.

CR-SE can give all students windows and mirrors, and through CR-SE in a Dancing Classroom even bridges to other cultures and experiences. Teaching students from diverse backgrounds, with individual experiences means that we must be prepared to welcome their diverse individuality into the classroom and into the dance!

Here you may find additional helpful information about CR-SE from the NYC Department of Education.


GENDER DIVERSITY & INCLUSION AT DANCING CLASSROOMS

Dancing Classrooms establishes safe space for all learners, including those with gender-expansive identities, those who are intersex, and of all sexual orientations. We are committed to supporting gender equality and the spirit of Title IX, the NYS Dept. of Education Dignity for All Students Act, and the NYS Human Rights Law, which protect against discrimination based on gender and gender identity. To that end we have developed teaching strategies and language designed to welcome and include all children. 

In previous years of Dancing Classrooms, children were referred to as “ladies and gentlemen,” as a way of instilling a feeling of respect, elegance, and maturity. While these terms can have empowering effects on some students, DC understands that the assignment of gender can have the opposite impact on non-binary, trans, intersex, queer and/or questioning children. As such, Dancing Classrooms does not assign students to dance girls’ and boys’ roles and has removed this phrasing from our curriculum and organizational shared language. Instead, we randomly invite students to left and right-footed dance roles and children are respectfully referred to collectively as “dancers, elegant people, dance friends, special dancers”, etc. This reinforces students learning to work respectfully as teams on their dance journeys.

Read more about the NYC Department of Education’s guidelines on Gender Inclusion


ORGANIZATIONAL UPDATES:

An Update on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) at Dancing Classrooms

June 25, 2021

As we come to the close of a remarkable school year fueled by disruption and racial awakening and move into a new chapter of healing and accountability, we are happy to share an update on the work that the Dancing Classrooms community has taken to create a more just world. 

Our founders, Pierre Dulaine and Yvonne Marceau, saw the power in partner dance to develop collaboration and leadership skills, build empathy, and cultivate the social-emotional learning needed for children to achieve their full potential, regardless of their race, ethnicity or the community in which they live. We believe that every child deserves respect and have used our powerful programs to create equitable opportunities for arts and social-emotional learning for over 26 years, reaching over 600,000 young people worldwide.

Recognizing that we cannot truly meet our mission without addressing the impact of systemic racism in education, dance, and in the workplace, this past year Dancing Classrooms invested in organization-wide learning and planning to further embed values of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility into our culture.  

As such, Dancing Classrooms has taken the following actions: 

  • Conducted a DEI survey and assessment of our organization led by Piper Anderson and CreateForward
  • Participated in a foundational anti-racism training for all Board, Staff, and Teaching Artists, led by CreateForward, to build shared language about race, apply a racial equity lens in our daily work, and learn how to execute anti-racist leadership practices. 
  • Engaged Jennifer Rutledge (Delphi Consultants, Inc.) to work closely with our Board of Trustees to embed effective diversity, equity, and inclusive practices throughout the Board cycle of service and support its ongoing efforts to expand and diversify. 
  • Engaged all Teaching Artists and Staff in Culturally Responsive Education training led by Dr. Nyama McCarthy Brown. Dr. McCarthy-Brown is also guiding a diverse team of Dancing Classrooms Teaching Artists to review and enhance our curriculum. This work will ensure that we are lifting up the histories and representation of Black and Brown people in the dances we teach and make more room for students to see themselves and their cultures reflected in our curricula.
  • Launched an Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) Working Group of Staff and Teaching Artist members to inform our ongoing IDEA learning, vision, strategy, and systems of accountability.

Addressing systemic issues around race and equity is an ongoing and complex process for everyone and will require each of us to take our own personal journey; lead our organizations in ways that truly reflect our community and strive for justice; and serve as advocates for our children by using our skills and talents to dismantle the hurdles they face while participating in our programs. We are grateful to the amazing group of advisors who support our efforts and welcome all of our stakeholders to join us as we continue to learn and grow. 

DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION (DEI) STATEMENT OF DANCING CLASSROOMS

Approved February 26, 2020

At Dancing Classrooms, Inc., diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are closely aligned with our Mission and with the Values embedded in our methodology (a respect for all children and a belief in all children’s ability to succeed) that daily guide how we deliver our services to our diverse students, schools, parents, and other community members.

Guided by our Mission and Values, we are committed to having a diverse group of employees, Board of Trustees, and other volunteers, and to ensuring that every team member feels valued and respected, without regard to gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, sexual orientation or identity, education or disability.

This includes practicing nondiscrimination and equal opportunity in hiring, managing, and advancing individuals in all of our departments, programs, and worksites. We respect and value diverse life experiences and heritages and ensure that all voices are valued and heard.

We are committed to delivering services to and attracting Board members from under-represented communities. As such, we will look to connect with, pool resources, and adopt practices of peer non-profit arts, youth/character and leadership development and educational organizations who are doing these things well.

To enhance our current practices, Dancing Classrooms will:

  • Lead with respect and empathy. We expect all employees and Trustees to embrace and exhibit these behaviors as they carry out their roles for Dancing Classrooms.
  • Further connect diversity, inclusion, and equity to our mission and our programs, as it is critical to delivering the greatest benefit to the students, schools, families, communities we serve, as well as to ensuring the well-being and effectiveness of our staff.
  • Commit time and resources to expand diversity within our Board, staff, committees, and advisory bodies.
  • As beneficial, further advance the integration of DEI principles in all of our existing and future programs.