The verdict is in: Dancing Classrooms is a winner

Colors of the Rainbow judges Patrick Flynn and Kelly Photopoulos compare notes during Saturday's competition (©2012 Archie Carpenter)

People share a remarkable number of uplifting  stories with us about Dancing Classrooms.  These stories come from both expected and unexpected sources — from the students and their parents, from our teaching artists, and from school administrators and employees, including custodians.

Now, one of our judges weighs in about what she’s observed as a Colors of the Rainbow official.

Kelly Photopoulos first became involved with dance through her 11-year-old daughter, Katie. For the past nine years, she’s been involved in all aspects of Katie’s competitive dancing, including ballet, tap, jazz, and ballroom. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University who studied music,  Ms. Photopoulos has judged three semi-final team matches for Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh. After Saturday’s event, she sent the following email to the prevention unit of Mercy Behavioral Health.

“In the spring event, a young team mounted the stage for the ‘Dance by Chance’ part of the event.  The gentleman said quietly to his partner, ‘I hope that we don’t get the Foxtrot.’ Of course, the dance chosen was the Foxtrot. The young lady gave him a small smile and said, ‘We’ve got this, just have fun.’ The couple listened to Mr. Terry count them in, started with a little hesitation, looked each other in the eye, smiled, and off they went with no problem.

The point isn’t that they danced the Foxtrot perfectly. The point is that they supported each other, didn’t give up, and worked together as a team to meet a challenge head-on.

At Saturday’s event, once again, I was impressed by the level of maturity, pride and respect that I saw from the young ladies and gentlemen.  The couple that sticks in my mind from the event was the young lady who was having a problem getting her shoe buckled while on stage.  Her teacher helped her to fix her shoe, and she and her partner started their dance.  A few seconds into the dance the buckle once again came undone and a few steps later, the other shoe was also unbuckled.  It was obvious that she was distracted and worried about losing her shoes.

The young gentleman that she was dancing with saw what was happening and knew what he had to do.  He said to the young lady, ‘It’s okay, just listen to me.’ He began to count the dance out loud to the young lady which helped to get her focus back onto the dance and to realize that, even if her shoe came off, it didn’t matter.  She and her partner were having fun and were doing what they had learned to do together.  At the end of the dance they laughed together and thanked each other for the dance.

I am so impressed by Dancing Classrooms and the impact that it has on the lives of these young people.  Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of this program.”

– Kelly Photopoulos

Our thanks to Ms. Photopoulos, not only for allowing us to sharing her thoughts, but also for the time she’s devoted as a volunteer for Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh.

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