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 Accessibility (IDEA) in our work.

How Dancing Classrooms Defines IDEAIDEA in our ProgramsCulturally Responsive & Sustaining EducationGender Diversity & InclusionOrganizational UpdatesLand Acknowledgement

How Dancing Classrooms Defines I.D.E.A.

As of June 30, 2022

INCLUSION 

Inclusion builds a culture of belonging through active engagement and dialogue. We believe every person adds value, and that by welcoming and including all voices we create a sense of shared ownership of our community. In an inclusive community, diverse individuals participate in all aspects of our organizational work, including decision-making. Importantly, we understand that no one individual can or should be called upon to represent an entire diverse group. They help present some of the many perspectives that exist for consideration.

DIVERSITY

Diversity is the myriad of ways we are different (no two individuals are the same), while also recognizing the strong commonalities that exist between all humans. Diversity has many dimensions, including ethnicity, race, gender, age, nationality, socio-economic status, religion, sexuality, and abilities, as well as different ways of expressing, communicating, and doing things. Diversity cannot always be seen and is often unseen such as neurodivergence. The presence of each difference brings value into the mix and thus, makes the group more powerful.  

EQUITY

Equity is built on the understanding that individuals possess different levels of privilege based on a variety of factors, including race and class. Equity seeks to level the playing field by going above and beyond to ensure fairness in treatment, opportunity, and access to information and resources. Equity strives to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. Equity requires ongoing action and assessment and an unwavering commitment to respect for all. (Equity is not the same as equality. Equality means giving everyone the same treatment, opportunity, and access, regardless of where they are starting from.)

ACCESSIBILITY 

Accessibility celebrates and respects everyone along the continuum of human ability and experience. Accessibility examines the ease of access for those who need accommodations and looks to design systems and methods to optimize access. Accessibility makes it possible for everyone to have equal opportunity to learn, understand, participate, and interact to the full extent of their abilities. 


BETWEEN THE STEPS
Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) in the “Dancing Classroom”

For over 25 years, Dancing Classrooms (DC) has introduced young people to the artistry and enjoyment of ballroom dance, predominantly “American Style,” through its unique approach. Ballroom is a type of social dance known the world over for being accessible to people at any age or skill level and improving social, emotional and physical wellbeing, which is why we teach it in our Core Curriculum. DC also recognizes that the beauty and benefits of what’s typically referred to as ballroom dance were inherited from the cultural social dances it adapted. The rhythms, music, rituals, and creative expressions of these dance forms all play important roles in the history and culture of people from across the world. More often than not, these dance forms originated from oppressed and underrepresented people, including enslaved Africans, African Americans, Latin Americans, and immigrants to the United States. As partner and social dances evolved in the U.S., the popularization of ballroom in dance halls, dance competitions and studios across the world often came at the exclusion of BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and differently abled dancers, and without full acknowledgement of the dances’ origins. 

As a leading provider of dance education, DC intentionally works to honor the diverse histories and innovators of the dances we teach, build more inclusive dance floors, and foster social dance spaces for all young people. We do this through culturally responsive and sustaining teaching practices that introduce students to developmentally appropriate American Style Ballroom and other social dances, welcome individual style and artistry, and celebrate the history, originators, and cultures of each dance form. We are dedicated to continuing this work with all members of the DC community, and embrace the contributions made by our students, staff, partners and teaching artists to bring more joy onto the dance floor for everyone.


CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE & SUSTAINING EDUCATION

Dancing Classrooms works each day to apply our long-held core values of respect and compassion to all that we do. 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, DC 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). DC seeks to continually deepen its commitment to the elements of our teaching framework called The Dulaine Method (Respect and Compassion, Safe Space, and Powerful Physical & Verbal Language) 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 has long been dedicated to creating safe 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


LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Though our programs take us all across the New York City Metropolitan area, and we frequently gather in a virtual spaces, Dancing Classrooms acknowledges the Indigenous peoples on whose ancient and sacred land we live, work, and dance. We acknowledge that Dancing Classrooms is based in New York City, which is Lenapehoking, the Lenape homeland. We recognize that this is unceded land.

We work to honor past, present, and future generations of all indigenous nations and their land, and acknowledge the genocide and continuous displacement of indigenous peoples. Moreover, we acknowledge the contributions that have been made by enslaved and displaced people to shaping, building, and maintaining what is now known as New York City and its environs. 

Dancing Classrooms devotes time to honor this acknowledgement at gatherings of staff, Teaching Artists, Affiliate Network, and other meetings as a way of showing respect, and compassionately and honestly facing our country’s history. As a community of dancers and educators, we are committed to learning how Native American artists and traditions have contributed to the dance field and incorporating that knowledge into our work as an embodied celebration of Native American culture.  

For engaging resources to share with students about the Lenape People, click here.  

To learn how you can honor native land, visit the US Department of Arts and Culture, by clicking here.

To learn about the land you currently occupy, please visit Native Land’s interactive map, by clicking here.


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.