Program Founders

“Dancing is about connections…to our friends, to our families, to our neighbors. It is one of the most expressive ways we celebrate and communicate our cultures and communities.

“With Dancing Classrooms, we are able to reach children in existing classroom settings and address fundamental issues of mutual respect and self-esteem – issues that social dance puts into practice. We hope to inspire children through dance to do well, to respect one another, to be proud. This program is about more than dance, it is about teaching children to take a bow.”

~ Pierre Dulaine and Yvonne Marceau

Yvonne Marceau and Pierre Dulaine (courtesy http://www.dancingclassrooms.com)

Executive Director Otto Cappel (active 1984 – 2009), along with show dance champions and Broadway dance couple Pierre Dulaine and  Yvonne Marceau, founded the American Ballroom Theater Company (ABrT) in 1984.

Ten years later, they established the company’s nonprofit educational arm, Dancing Classrooms.

Internationally renowned performers and teachers, Dulaine and Marceau are four-time winners of the British Exhibition Championships, earned tbe 1993 Dance Magazine Award, and received the 1989 – 1990 Astaire Award for Best Dancing on Broadway for the roles they created and choreographed as the mellifluous couple in Tommy Tune’s Grand Hotel.

Dulaine and Marceau have been faculty members at both the School of American Ballet and The Juilliard School, as well as guest teachers at Alvin Ailey. In 2005 they received the Americans for the Arts Award for Education.

Their influence extended into films with the 2005 release of the major motion picture “Take The Lead.” The drama, starring Antonio Banderas as Pierre Dulaine, was inspired by Dulaine’s teaching experience in schools.

Marceau has choreographed for various companies and events, including the Julia Roberts film “Mona Lisa Smile.”

The 2006 documentary “Mad Hot Ballroom” is a look inside the lives of New York City school students on a journey into the world of ballroom dancing, an unexpected arena where they discover new frontiers about attitude, movement, style and commitment. Told from the candid, sometimes hilarious perspective of the boys and girls themselves, the film chronicles their transformation from typical urban kids to “ladies and gentlemen,” as their school teams strive towards a final citywide competition.