The Original Dance Moms

The "Dance Moms" of Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh.  (left to right) Sally Rogalsky, Janet Yuhasz, Stephanie Murtaugh, Michelle Rone Cooper, Dr. Barbara Rudiak, Cindy Thomas  photo by Archie Carpenter
The “Dance Moms” of Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh. (left to right) Sally Rogalsky, Janet Yuhasz, Stephanie Murtaugh,
Michele Rone Cooper,
Dr. Barbara Rudiak, Cindy Thomas photo by Archie Carpenter 2013

While the reality TV show , “Dance Moms,” is set in Pittsburgh.  They are not the original ones.

Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh officially kicked off Mother’s Day weekend 2013 by recognizing our “Original Dance Moms.”  That’s right-our six dance moms pictured above were honored for their “unrelenting and never-ending support of Dancing Classrooms.”  Each “mom” played a key role in the evolution of Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh.

After seeing Mad Hot Ballroom in the theater, Sally Rogalsky called her son, Mark, to encourage him to take his children to see the movie.  Needless to say he didn’t, but upon viewing it a year later, thought it would be a great addition to prevention programming that he oversaw in the Pittsburgh Public Schools.

A phone call was then placed to Janet Yuhasz-Student Services Coordinator in the Pittsburgh Public Schools-where he told her about Dancing Classrooms and it’s virtues.  Hmm, something to think about.

One day during supervision, Mark raised the idea of a new and innovative addition to the Pittsburgh Mercy Health System’s prevention department.  What could it be?  Dancing Classrooms, of course.  Stephanie Murtaugh was given copies of Mad Hot Ballroom and Take the Lead (with Antonio Banderas) to watch and see what the program was all about.  After watching the movies, her interest was peaked, and the movement was on to bring this program to Pittsburgh.

Not too long after that meeting, a conference call took place, with McAuley Ministries and their executive director, Michele Rone Cooper.  The subject matter was not Dancing Classrooms  but Ms. Murtaugh was so excited about DC, that she told Ms. Cooper, who in turn got very excited about it-you could hear in her voice that this was something she was interested in helping with.

A meeting was set where the National Network Director for Dancing Classrooms came to town.  Potential funders, agency personnel, school personnel and others were invited.  Dr. Barbara Rudiak, an assistant superintendent for the Pittsburgh Public Schools announced that the district stood behind the program and would welcome it into their schools.  Dr. Rudiak had heard of the program years before, and had even brought along future teaching artists, Rozana and Terry Sweeney to this meeting.  It was also during this meeting, that Cindy Thomas, the executive director of Tobacco Free Allegheny, stepped forward and offered financial support of the program.

We felt that these six women should be honored for the roles they played in the creation of Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh.  They are at every event, and they take every opportunity they can to tell others of the success of the program.  We would not be where we are today without them.

On behalf of the principals of the schools and their staff, on behalf of the teaching artists, on behalf of the Prevention Staff of PMHS, on behalf of the almost 3000 students in the Pittsburgh area  whose lives have been changed by Dancing Classrooms, we all say “Thank You, Partner.”

What is Dancing Classrooms?

When we began to gather interest to bring Dancing Classrooms to Pittsburgh, a few years back, people would always ask, “What is Dancing Classrooms?”  Is it a dance program? Is it after-school?  What dances do the students learn? Just a few of the questions that would be asked.  I always wished I could show them Mad Hot Ballroom, or Take the Lead.  Most folks hadn’t seen either of those movies.  This past June, at our fundraiser, Mad Hot Ballroom Pittsburgh, we created this video which we believe defines what the program is about.  Sit back and enjoy.  And as always please feel free to share and spread the word!

Turn “likes” into donations for Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh, courtesy of McGinnis Sisters

We like this. We think you will, too.

Noreen McGinnis Campbell, honorary chair for Pittsburgh Mercy Health System’s “Mad Hot Ballroom Pittsburgh” event and avid supporter of Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh, has graciously offered to make our program the beneficiary of a nonprofit promotion on Facebook. Continue reading

Much more than dance: a brief history of Dancing Classrooms [video]

People often ask us, “What’s  the story behind Dancing Classrooms?” and “Why would schools make a ballroom dance class mandatory?”  Continue reading

“Becoming Ginger Rogers” book launch benefits Dancing Classrooms

book coverThe recent industry launch of PR maven Patrice Tanaka’s new book, “Becoming Ginger Rogers…How Ballroom Dancing Made Me a Happier Woman, Better Partner and Smarter CEO,” was a fundraiser for Dancing Classrooms.

“I can’t think of a better way to launch my book, which is a memoir/business book about the personal and professional transformation I experienced through ballroom dance, than to use it as a fundraiser for Dancing Classrooms, a program I have long admired for its success in helping to transform young lives one step at a time through ballroom dance,” explains Tanaka. Continue reading

Put on your dancing shoes for Mad Hot Ballroom Pittsburgh

Get on the floor and join us on Sunday June 12, 2011 from 4 until 8 p.m. for Mad Hot Ballroom Pittsburgh, our first fundraiser for Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh at The Westin Convention Center (hotel), Pittsburgh.

Treat yourself to an entertaining evening of ballroom dance, cocktails, a buffet dinner, silent auction, and special performances by students from Pittsburgh Linden K-5, champions of Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh 2010-11 Colors of the Rainbow.

Most importantly, you’ll take the lead in helping Pittsburgh children.

Pierre Dulaine, founding director, Dancing Classrooms (©2009 Archie Carpenter)

We’re honored that Mr. Pierre Dulaine, international ballroom champion, Broadway performer, and founding director of Dancing Classrooms, will serve as master of ceremonies.

In addition to his impressive dance repertoire, Dulaine’s influence extended into film with the release of the  2005 documentary Mad Hot Ballroom, an inspiring look inside the lives of children on a journey into the world of ballroom dancing. His teaching experience in New York City schools was also the inspiration for the 2006 film, Take The Lead, starring Antonio Banderas as Dulaine. Continue reading

The start of something big

In your travels around the City of Pittsburgh over the next two weeks, don’t be surprised if you spot a billboard — or two, or three — promoting Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh Colors of the Rainbow finals.

The young lady and gentleman featured in the public service announcement, Faith Hubert and Nature Askew of  Pittsburgh Allegheny K-5, were beautifully captured  by photographer Archie Carpenter as they performed at the Colors of the Rainbow semi-finals last December. This talented pair of dancers helped to lead their team to the finals, so look for them on stage on May 21. Continue reading