People often ask us, “What’s the story behind Dancing Classrooms?” and “Why would schools make a ballroom dance class mandatory?”
So, we thought our readers may want to know a little more about the history of the program.
In 2009, the prevention unit of Mercy Behavioral Health, part of the Pittsburgh Mercy Health System, introduced Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh. Three hundred fifth graders in six Pittsburgh Public Schools took part in the first semester. Since then, our successful program has grown to include 26 schools, including schools in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh/Extra Mile Education Foundation.
The program is about much more than dance. Through Dancing Classrooms, children build social awareness, confidence, and self-esteem. More than 300,000 children have benefitted from programs worldwide; 1,500 of those in Pittsburgh.
Here’s what local fifth graders have to say about their experience.
The history of Dancing Classrooms is best told by Mr. Pierre Dulaine, founding director. In 1994, the performer and international ballroom champion volunteered to teach a dance class at the Professional Performing Arts School on West 48th Street in Manhattan. Based on that experience, he developed Dancing Classrooms. In the video at the top of this post, he explains how and why he started the program, and shares some of its remarkable results.
For an inspiring, entertaining, behind-the-scenes look at Dancing Classrooms from the perspective of the children, we highly recommend you rent Mad Hot Ballroom. This 2006 documentary takes you inside the lives of New York City school students on a journey into the world of ballroom dancing. Mad Hot Ballroom chronicles their transformation from typical fifth-graders to “ladies and gentlemen,” as teams work toward a final citywide competition. The film is rated PG.
Here’s a peek at the first few minutes of Mad Hot Ballroom:
Finally, you may also want to check out Take The Lead, a 2005 drama based on Mr. Pierre’s teaching experience in New York City schools. The 2005 movie, starring Antonio Banderas as Dulaine, is rated PG-13.
Happy viewing! Be sure to leave your comments.