TED: Why dance is just as important as math in school

Dance — and physical activity — should have the same status in schools as math, science and language. Psst: it may even help raise test scores, says Sir Ken Robinson.

A number of professional dance companies offer programs for schools. One of them is Dancing Classrooms, a nonprofit based in New York City, which brings ballroom dancing into elementary and middle schools in some of the most challenging districts in the country. Using dance, the organization aims to improve social relationships especially among genders and to enrich the culture of the schools by cultivating collaboration, respect and compassion. Founded in 1994 by the dancer Pierre Dulaine, the program now offers each school twenty sessions over ten weeks, culminating in a showcase.

Toni Walker, former principal of Lehigh Elementary School in Florida, shares this story from working with Dancing Classrooms. “When this young lady first came to Lehigh, the file on her was probably two inches thick,” Walker recalls. “She felt she needed to prove herself and make sure everyone knew she was strong and would fight.” The girl didn’t want to join the ballroom dancing program … but participation wasn’t optional. Soon, she found she had a natural ability. “In the next lesson, she had a little bit of a different attitude and we didn’t have to fight with her to dance,” Walker remembers. “She just got in line.”

By the third and fourth lessons, Walker says, the student was transformed: “She carries herself differently; she speaks differently; she is kind; she is respectful; she has not had one [disciplinary notice], not one. Her mother can’t believe what she sees. It’s amazing. Amazing. The program is far greater than people understand.”

Read More of this article, written by Sir Ken Robinson & Lou Aronica, on IDEAS.TED.COM.

SingularDTV: Defining Value through Dancing Classrooms

Executive Director Rodney Lopez joins SingularDTV to talk Dancing Classrooms.

Dance Teacher Magazine: 4 Essential Skills for Teaching Artists

Meghan Grupposo never planned on becoming a teaching artist. She graduated from Juilliard in 2000 and went on to dance and choreograph for the Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center. But a stress fracture from her senior year of high school kept coming back. “I needed to find another avenue to live my passion," she says.

Fortunately, her Juilliard ballroom instructors, Pierre Dulaine and Yvonne Marceau, were holding auditions for teaching artists. “I was mortified at the thought of having to speak in front of people," Grupposo says—a severe challenge for any would-be educator—but she got the job with Dancing Classrooms and now teaches 16 ballroom dance classes per week to public-school students across New York City. Like all successful educators, she had to learn that classroom settings require a very different skill set from the traditional dance studio.

Learn the 4 Essential Skills on Dance-Teacher.com

Wall Street Journal: Supporting Children and the Arts in the Classroom

Dancing Classrooms Founder Pierre Dualine and actor J.W. Cortes join Lunch Break with Tanya Rivero to discuss the benefits of dancing in the classroom.

Pierre Dulaine teaches PIX 11 to dance

What better way to celebrate National Ballroom Dance Week than with some of the best dancers in New York City?

The dancers happen to be part of a program called Dancing Classrooms. It was founded by Pierre Dulaine in 1994 as a not-for-profit project of the American Ballroom Theater Company in NYC. Dancing Classrooms is an arts program, teaching ballroom dancing to the upper elementary and middle school students of participating schools throughout the five boroughs with the goal of cultivating essential life skills in children through the practice of social dance.

Read More On PIX11.com

Broadway World: Elevate Cabaret Evening to Benefit Dancing Classrooms Comes To Life

The exciting world of Dancing Classrooms, that most people know from the award-winning movies that tell its story, such as the Hollywood film starring Antonio Banderas Take the Lead, Mad Hot Ballroom, as well as Dancing in Jaffa, comes alive on the evening of September 19, 2016 for the Dancing Classrooms Contemporaries' premiere cabaret benefit event, ELEVATE during National Ballroom Dance Week, (Sept. 15 - 25 ). ELEVATE will celebrate community impact and artistic success with its line-up of vanguard and live cabaret performances and awards program, all to benefit Dancing Classroom's innovative approach to social and emotional learning, (SEL) with all the benefits of physical wellness, turning 4th and 5th graders into respectful 'young ladies and gentlemen' with self-discipline, self-respect and increased self-esteem.

This year is the 10th Anniversary of the Take The Lead film, where Antonio Banderas plays a character inspired by the founder of Dancing Classrooms, Pierre Dulaine, who introduces students to a mix of ballroom, and hip-hop as well as new self-respect and possibilities.

"Our mission is to cultivate essential life skills in children through the art of social dance," relates Pierre Dulaine, founder. "Our vision is to unite students, parents, schools, and create communities where every child is connected, respected, and provided a safe environment in which to thrive."

Read the whole article on broadwayworld.com.

AlHURRA Interview with Founder Pierre Dulaine

Pierre Dulaine developed dancing classrooms in 1994 while teaching dance in Manhattan, created as a method to teach children social awareness, confidence and self-esteem. the program has gained great accolades and continues to grow nationally and internationally with each passing year. Click Here to Watch The Interview on Vimeo.

Dancing Classrooms to Honor Cynthia Germanotta & Dr. Marc Brackett

The Dancing Classrooms, Inc. Board of Trustees has announced plans to honor Born This Way Foundation Co-Founder and President Cynthia Bissett Germanotta with the 2016 Humanitarian Award and will honor Dr. Marc Brackett of Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence with its annual Social and Emotional Learning Champion Award.

Ms. Germanotta and Dr. Brackett will be honored at Dancing Classrooms' annual Mad Hot Ball to be held March 9, 2016 at The Pierre Hotel on East 61st Street for their innovative collaboration in the advancement of social and emotional learning and their work on the inaugural Emotion Revolution Summit in 2015. The collaboration has empowered students to drive the national conversation that charges schools with increasing their focus on social and emotional learning (SEL) and build positive school climates. Students from across the country had an opportunity to meet with Lady Gaga, educators, academics, and policy makers to learn ways they can accelerate positive changes in their schools and communities. 

"Ms. Germanotta and Dr. Brackett are trailblazing new opportunities for the social and emotional health of our youth through their powerful collaboration so it gives us great pleasure to honor their collaboration at the Gala," said John G. Schultz, Executive Director of Dancing Classrooms, Inc. and Dancing Classrooms Global.

“It is an honor to receive this award from Dancing Classrooms – an organization that share’s Born This Way Foundation’s commitment to inspiring and empowering young people. In order for our students to thrive, they need access to a well-rounded education that embraces the importance of the arts as well as the crucial role of social and emotional learning,” said Cynthia Germanotta.

The evening will include dancing and live music by the Paul Errico Orchestra withperformances by Dancing Classrooms' Youth Dance Company and PS45 Clarence Witherspoon in Queens whose fifth-grade ladies and gentlemen (six couples) will demonstrate dancing skills learned during their 10-week residency this fall.

Patrice Tanaka is a member of the Dancing Classrooms Board of Directors and serves as Gala Chair for the 2016 Mad Hot Ball.  Steering committee members include Hilary Wolf Bayer, Yang Chen, Wendy Rosalind Johnson, Patrice Koyce, Igor Litnikov, Rodney E. Lopez, Yvonne Marceau, Anne Nordeman, John G. Schultz, Alison Shih, Edward Simon, Carrie Shea Steinmetz, Paola M. Stuff and Deylan Terziev.  

A live auction by CK Swett Charity Auctioneer includes two tickets for a live broadcast during Season 22 of Dancing with the Stars, of dinner with Dancing with the Stars'Maksim Chmerkovskiy; dinner with Dancing with the Stars' Karina Smirnoff, dinner with Dancing with the Stars' Tony Dovolani, a walk-on role on Bravo network's Million Dollar Listing New York with a meet and greet with Ryan Serhant; two tickets to designer ReemAcra's runway show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week; two premium seats for one of Adele's September 2016 shows at Madison Square Garden and much more.

Cynthia Bissett Germanotta is the co-founder and president of Born This Way Foundation, which she founded with her daughter, Lady Gaga, to empower youth and inspire bravery. Mrs. Germanotta is a former telecommunications executive whose career spanned 25 years in sales and sales management. She is an honors graduate of West Virginia University and The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where she received a master's degree in public administration and was a candidate for the Presidential Intern Program. Mrs. Germanotta is a founding member and advocate for the Women’s Council on Heart Health for the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute at New York Presbyterian Cornell Weill Medical Center. In addition, she has served on the Ladies' Auxiliary Committee of The Columbus Citizens Foundation.

Marc Brackett, Ph.D. is director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. He is also a senior research scientist in psychology and faculty fellow in the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy at Yale University. He co-created RULER and has developed two university courses on emotional intelligence. Marc is a recipient of the Joseph E. Zins Award for his research on social and emotional learning. His grant-funded research focuses on (1) the role of emotional intelligence in learning, decision-making, relationship quality, and mental health, (2) the measurement of emotional intelligence, and (3) the influences of emotional intelligence training on student and educator effectiveness, bullying prevention, and school climate. Marc also is working with Facebook on a large-scale research project designed to both prevent and decrease online bullying. He is the author of 100 scholarly publications.

Marc serves on numerous research advisory boards, including CASEL, Born This Way Foundation, and the Greater Good Science Center. He regularly delivers keynote addresses, consults with school systems on integrating RULER, and works with corporations on best practices for incorporating emotional intelligence. He also holds a 5th degree black belt in Hapkido, a Korean martial art.



Started in one New York City public school in 1994 by Pierre Dulaine, ballroom champion and teacher, and his long-time dance partner, Yvonne Marceau, Dancing Classrooms has served than 500,000 students, their teachers and their families in 31 cities in the U.S. and abroad.   

Through a 10-week residency program, Dancing Classrooms helps children succeed in life by unleashing rapid development of essential social, emotional, and cognitive skills.  A distinctively rich, in-school Social and Emotional Learning accelerator, the program engages students in the joy, discipline, and teamwork of the art social dance and creates mutually respectful and effective learning environments.

The program featured in the acclaimed documentary Mad Hot Ballroom, Dancing Classrooms now serves over 45,000 students a year, 25,000 of them in New York City. According to a recent study by Rob Horowitz of the Center for Arts Education Research at Teachers College of Columbia University, 95% of participating teachers reported that their students improved self-discipline and focus through participating in Dancing Classrooms and 89% said that their students demonstrated improved engagement and motivation in other areas of school.


Download the Press Release [PDF]

The Atlantic: Learning Empathy Through Dance

“Ch-ch-tsss. Ch-ch-tsss.” On a chilly Wednesday morning, Baja Poindexter sounded out the steps of the rumba to a classroom of fifth-graders at West Athens Elementary School, located in one of Los Angeles’s most violent neighborhoods. She encouraged her class of mostly Latino students to do the same. They tenuously clasped each other’s hands in ballroom dance “frame,” or body position, and swayed to the music at “Miss Baja’s” command. “Side, together, to the lady! Side, together, to the gentleman!” she bellowed.

Toward the end of the hour, the students grew restless and squirmy, the volume of their chatter drowning out Poindexter’s voice. She paused. “You’ve got enough things against you in the outside world. When you come to school, it should be a safe space for you, but you have to make it that way by being respectful to each other.”

Baja Poindexter teaching students dance at West Athens Elementary School. (Audrey Cleo Yap)

Poindexter is a teaching artist forDancing Classrooms, a nonprofit based in New York City that brings ballroom dancing to schools primarily in underserved communities. Started by the dancer Pierre Dulaine in 1994, the 10-week program was featured in the 2005 documentary Mad Hot Ballroom and uses ballroom as a vehicle for teaching elementary- and middle-schoolers social-emotional skills like respect and teamwork and, by extension, empathy. For many underprivileged students, in-class time with programs like Dancing Classrooms is the only time they will have regular exposure to the arts.

Read the article on TheAtlantic.com