Dancing With Rhythms & Stories

K-2nd Grade Residency

Our newly developed program for younger dancers uses creative movement to introduce the basic elements of dance, while building important habits of learning, helping make classrooms engaging and fun for students. 
Through guided exploration of patterns in music and movement from social and folk dances from across the globe, students collaborate to create dances, are able to respectfully learn about other cultures, and celebrate their own creativity. Like all Dancing Classrooms programs, Dancing with Rhythms & Stories sparks imagination, builds confidence, encourages self-expression, and strengthens coordination and communication skills.
Many thanks to the New York Community Trust for their 2022 grant to support the development of this new program.


  • 16 Lessons, scaffolded in 4 units, tied to curricular themes specific to each grade.
  • Instruction takes place in a classroom or classroom-like setting.
  • Multiple social or folk dances are introduced as a portal for learning the basic elements of dance–time, space, energy, weight, body and movement–alongside the cultures of the dances’ origins.
  • Makes connections to learning and literacy through counting, vocabulary, and read-alouds.
  • Students use their creativity while being active, practicing decision making, and collaborating with peers.
  • Crafted in partnership with early education professionals and expert social dance advisors.


The Dances

Dancing With Rhythms and Stories is an in-school curriculum for K-2nd grades that explores different social dances from around the world as a source of inspiration for dance-making, as well as developing social-emotional skills. We use Creative Movement as a vehicle to propel exploration.

Grade: Kindergarten.

Curriculum Theme: Exploring Nature & The Elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water)

Grade: 1st Grade.

Curriculum Theme: Building Community & Partnerships

Grade: 2nd Grade.

Curriculum Theme: Storytelling Through Movement

Cultures and Social Dances Explored:
  • Dominican Social Dance: Merengue
  • Mexican Folk Dance: Mexican Hat Dance
  • Caribbean Social Dance: Soca and Dancehall
Cultures and Social Dances Explored:
  • Chinese Folk Dance: Yangko
  • Puerto Rican Social Dance: Bomba y Plena
  • American Social Dance: Jazz and Hip-Hop
Cultures and Social Dances Explored:
  • West African Dance: Funga Alafia and Sinte
  • Spanish Social Dance: Flamenco and Sevillanas
  • Indian Social Dance: Bhangra

Each Residency is delivered in close partnership with schools and teachers to make partnership and dance part of the learning experience.

In-Depth Learning

Delivered over 16 full-length class sessions taught twice weekly, to maximize learning retention and help develop muscle memory.

Additional Support and Direct Coordination With Teachers and Staff

Provided via an orientation meeting and Program Manager check-ins.

Connections to Literacy

Read-alouds, talk backs, and verbal and written self-reflections.

Adaptable to your students’ needs

Works in a variety of classroom settings, including ICT and Self-Contained classrooms.

Culminates in an informal sharing, or “In-Formance”

Every student participates in sharing at the end of the residency. The In-formance includes the warmups, creative movement dances, and student reflections.

Through fun, scaffolded activities, students will be able to...

  • Understand and appreciate social dance genres and rhythms from around the world.
  • Develop foundational learning skills through creative movement that connects with New York State Standards Domain 1: Approaches to Learning.
  • Make connections between literature, movement, and various cultures.
  • Demonstrate basic locomotor and kinesthetic skills through foundational movements of social dance.

Students will hone and develop their executive functioning skills and habits of learning by...

  • Engaging in cooperative, purposeful and interactive play and activities that enhance learning and encourage exploration.
  • Actively engaging in problem solving strategies to achieve goals. 
  • Approaching tasks and problems using materials and strategies in uncommon and creative ways to create, try, or do something new.
  • Exploring and asking questions for meaningful information about a growing range of topics, ideas, and tasks. 
  • Developing persistence and organizational skills.

Consulting Advisors:

As Dancing Classrooms actively works to expand its programs and build cultural competency, we engage with a diverse group of experts in the field to inspire and inform our curricula. This community of colleagues share knowledge, video and music resources, and recommend age-appropriate dances for each new genre we explore with young people.

Yloy Ybarra

Spanish Social Dance – Flamenco/Sevillanas

Mexican Folk Dance – Mexican Hat Dance

Xin Tan

Chinese Folk Dance – Yangko

Sarina Jain

Indian Folk Dance – Bhangra 

Michelle Cole

Caribbean Social Dance – Dancehall (Jamaica)

See Us In Action!