Young ballroom dancers show poise, elegance, talent

swing dance
This couple from Pittsburgh Lincoln was swept off their feet at Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh’s Colors of the Rainbow semifinal team match on December 15, 2012 (©2012 Archie Carpenter)

On Saturday, December 15, teams of fifth-grade students from nine local schools took the stage for Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh’s Colors of the Rainbow semifinal team match.

The ballroom competition, sponsored by Mercy Behavioral Health, took place at Pittsburgh Allderdice High School. Proud parents, siblings, classmates, and school officials jammed the auditorium. Some brought signs and pom-poms in support of their schools. Many dressed in their teams’ designated “rainbow color.” All showed their appreciation for the talented, elegant young ladies and gentlemen on the stage.

Once again, Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh Teaching Artist Terry Sweeney served as master of ceremonies. He and the students demonstrated the instruction methods developed by Pierre Dulaine, program founder. Mr. Terry emphasized that Dancing Classrooms is about much more than dance. Dancers impressed the audience with their poise, elegance, and talent.

Eight of the teams who competed were from Pittsburgh Public Schools; one was from an elementary school in Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh. All fifth graders at the nine schools took Dancing Classrooms in the fall semester. Of more than 500 students who participated, 12 were chosen from each school to compete.

In the first round, nine couples — one from each school – danced their specialities: Merengue, Foxtrot, Rumba, Tango, and Swing. Next was “Dance By Chance.” In that round, a dance is picked randomly. So, in addition to rehearsing their speciality, all students must be prepared to think on their feet while in the spotlight.

The performance levels on Saturday were high. Our judges Megan  Bethel, Patrick Flynn, and Mike McConnell, had their work cut out for them, but all enjoyed themselves in the process. Clearly, the students had fun, too. When not on stage, they enthusiastically cheered on their fellow dancers, counting out steps and keeping time from their seats.

Even principals and teachers joined in the act. They danced with their students in an impromptu exhibition before Mark Rogalsky, unit prevention manager for Mercy Behavioral Health and Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh site director, announced the final results.

After the event, the audience gave rave reviews. Said one parent: “My son enjoyed it [Dancing Classrooms] so much that I’m now looking into ballroom dance classes for him.” Another said she sees a difference in the way boys treat the girls. “It’s more than learning the dances,” she noted.

Following are the standings from the Colors of the Rainbow fall 2012 semifinal team match. The four gold medal teams advance to the final competition in May 2013.

Gold Medal Teams
Pittsburgh Lincoln PreK-5 (Team Yellow)
Pittsburgh Sunnyside (Team Indigo)
Pittsburgh West Liberty K-5 (Team Red)
Sister Thea Bowman PreK-8 Catholic Academy (Team Magenta)

Silver Medalist Teams
Pittsburgh Carmalt PreK-8 (Team Purple)
Pittsburgh Concord K-5 (Team Blue)
Pittsburgh Langley K-8 (Team Marroon)
Pittsburgh Montessori PreK-8 (Team Orange)
Pittsburgh Roosevelt PreK-5 (Team Green)

Once the dates are set for the next round of semifinals and for the finals, we’ll be sure to let you know.

Congratulations to all students, and thanks to Mr. Terry, our teaching artists, judges, schools, and sponsors.

To keep up to date with Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh, please subscribe to our blog by email. See the form in the right-hand column of our home page.

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