Four elementary schools take top honors in Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh Colors of the Rainbow, advance to finals

A jubilant "red team," Pittsburgh Dilworth, celebrates advancing to the finals of Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh ballroom competition (©2011 Archie Carpenter)

Today, teams of fifth graders from four Pittsburgh Public Schools — Pittsburgh Carmalt PreK-8, Pittsburgh Dilworth PreK-5, Pittsburgh Linden K-5 and Pittsburgh Whittier K-5 — took top honors in the Colors of the Rainbow semi-finals for the winter/spring 2011 semester of Mercy Behavioral Health’s Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh.

For their stellar performances, those four teams earned gold medals — and more importantly — guaranteed  spots for their respective schools in 2010-2011 finals on May 21, 2011.

The Colors of the Rainbow ballroom dance competition featured 36 young couples – six each representing six Pittsburgh Public Schools — selected from nearly 400 students who participated in Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh during the winter/spring 2011 semester. All fifth graders underwent 20 in-school lessons over a 10-week period of instruction by our specially trained teaching artists.

After welcoming everyone and offering a few opening remarks, Mark Rogalsky, site director for Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh and unit manager for prevention services for Mercy Behavioral Health, introduced the traditional Parade of Colors.  Pairs of impeccably coiffed young ladies and well-dressed gentlemen entered the auditorium of Pittsburgh Allderdice High School, school by school. A brief, on-stage warm-up followed, and the competition was underway.

In the first round, couples performed their previously assigned dances — the Merengue, Foxtrot, Rumba, Tango, and Swing  — with poise and confidence.

In the second round, Dance by Chance,  they had to think on their feet, as the next set of dances were chosen randomly, on the spot. Again, the dancers showed they were prepared to rise to the challenge.

Through it all, a wildly enthusiastic crowd of parents, siblings, school officials, teaching artists, friends and classmates cheered nearly every move.  Ardent supporters of all ages, many decked out  in their school’s “color of the rainbow,” raised signs, shook pom poms and high-fived  one another. Students offstage  help fellow classmates stay in stride as they performed by counting steps out loud. And everyone joined in the applause. Even Master of Ceremonies Terry Sweeney, teaching artist for Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh, noted that today’s audience may have been the loudest at any competition to date.

Complete results for Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh Colors of the Rainbow winter/spring 2011 semi-finals are as follows:

  • Gold Medals: Pittsburgh Carmalt K-8 (purple), Pittsburgh Dilworth K-5 (Red), Pittsburgh Linden K-5 (orange) and Pittsburgh Whittier K-5 (green)
  • Silver Medals: Pittsburgh Arsenal K-5 (blue) and Pittsburgh Montessori K-8 (magenta)

This afternoon’s gold medal winners will advance to the finals, scheduled for May 21, 2011 at 10 a.m. at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland. There, they will meet the four winners of the semi-finals from the fall 2010 semester, including Pittsburgh Allegheny K-5, Pittsburgh Phillips K-5, Pittsburgh Sunnyside K-8 and Pittsburgh West Liberty K-5.

Congratulations to all dancers and teaching artists  for high-caliber performances all around.  Special thanks to our panel of judges, Patrick Flynn, Gerry LaVan and Kelly Photopoulos, for their time and expertise, and to our generous sponsors.

Teams warm up for the Colors of the Rainbow semi-final competition with the Swing (©2011 Archie Carpenter)

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