Shalom Chaverim (“Hello Friends” in Hebrew)! DCPittsburgh and Karmiel (Israel) Connect!


Shalom Chaverim!  We finally did it!!!  Finally?  Yes, FINALLY!  Well, not really finally because this is only the beginning.  When I first met Miri Shahaf-Levi the summer of 2012 in New York City.  The Annual Dancing Classrooms Site Director’s Conference.  No sooner do I walk into the pre-conference festivities, than Pierre Dulaine grabs me by the arm to introduce me to Miri.  We talked about our programs ( you have heard us talk about “Dancing in Jaffa,” she oversees Dancing Classrooms Israel.) and began a conversation of how can we connect Pittsburgh and Israel.

Fast forward to February 2015.  Miri emails me and she tells me how Pittsburgh’s sister city in Israel, Karmiel, has two schools participating in Dancing Classrooms this year.  We talk details – especially the time difference as Israel is 6 hours ahead.  No problem as they will have their 20th lesson/Culminating event later in the day.  Perfect!  And when does everything go perfect????

Well, we did it.  Wasn’t easy, but it was truly a great experience.  Pittsburgh Linden ( special thanks to Ms Darla Jackson and parent volunteer, Mrs. Lori Smolar for all their help), Pittsburgh Colfax (Special thanks to Ms Conroy and Ms Stefanyak), and Pittsburgh Lincoln (special thanks to Principal Virginia HIll!) Face-timed and Skyped with the students at the Kalanit School and the Hadekel School in Karmiel, Israel.  Wow!  The Pittsburgh kids learned some Hebrew, cheered on their new “chaverim,” did the STOMP along with their chaverim at Kalanit School, and said “Todah Rabah (Thank You Very Much),” when it was time to say goodbye.  Miri, we look forward to SKYPE-ing with our new friends again soon!  Enjoy the pictures from this incredible event!!  Thanks to everyone, but especially all of the kids-both here in Pittsburgh and in Karmiel!  ( Thanks to our photographers from Dancing Classrooms Israel, Mark Rogalsky, Principal Virginia Hill, and Jennifer Hoffman!!!)

 

The Hadekel School students dance while Pittsburgh Colfax and Pittsburgh Lincoln students watch from thousands of mile away.
The Kalanit School students get to see the Pittsburgh Linden students-Facetime Dancing Classrooms style!
The Kalanit School students get to see the Pittsburgh Linden students-Facetime Dancing Classrooms style!
The Kalanit School students get to see the Pittsburgh Linden students-Facetime Dancing Classrooms style!
The Kalanit School students get to see the Pittsburgh Linden students-Facetime Dancing Classrooms style!
The Hadekel School students dance while Pittsburgh Colfax and Pittsburgh Lincoln students watch from thousands of mile away.
Pittsburgh Lincoln students cheer on their "chaverim" - friends in Hebrew - at the Hadekol School in Karmiel, Israel.
Pittsburgh Lincoln students cheer on their “chaverim” – friends in Hebrew – at the Hadekel School in Karmiel, Israel.
Pittsburgh Colfax teacher, Ms. Robyn Stefanyak, holds her ipad so that the Hadekel School students in Karmiel, Israel can see their new friends in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Colfax students watch their chaverim -firends- in Karmiel, Israel at the Hadekel School.
Signs that Pittsburgh Linden students held up while watching the Kalanit School students danced.
Signs that Pittsburgh Linden students held up while watching the Kalanit School students danced.
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Pittsburgh Linden students facetiming with the Kalanit School students in Karmiel, Israel.

 

2014 5th grade Finals video is here

 

Here is the video from the finals…..enjoy

 

County Councilman Tom Baker Proclaims May 17, 2014 “Dancing Classrooms Day” in Allegheny County!

Allegheny County Councilman, Tom Baker, proclaimed Saturday May 17, 2014, as Dancing Classrooms Day in Allegheny County.  Councilman Baker spoke of the wonderful work done by the teaching artists and the benefits of such a program.

Thank You Councilman Baker!!!

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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.”

May 4, 2013 Semi-Final Video is here!

Just to prove how tough the competition was this past Saturday-check out our video.  Filled with pictures by Archie Carpenter and a few by our own PMHS Prevention staff members.  Archie always captures the essence of Dancing Classrooms.  And there is nothing more that we enjoy than sharing the love with you.  If this doesn’t encourage you to come see the talent on Saturday May 11th, 10am Pittsburgh Allderdice High School.

Pittsburgh Linden shakes it for their families!

Despite the rain, families showed up in droves to see their students shakin’ what their mamas gave them!  Mr. Terry Sweeney made sure that all of the Pittsburgh K-5 students performed at the top of their game   And that they did…and everyone got into the act.  A great time was had by all-see for yourself!

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Parents and students dancing the Merengue togehter
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Starburst-ing during the 

Merengue

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you name the electronic device and I guarantee in was in this audience

Pittsburgh Linden students perform the Tango at their culminating event on April 29, 2013
Pittsburgh Linden students perform the Tango at their culminating event on April 29, 2013
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Doing the corte in the Tango. How elegant do they look?
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can you tell how hard they are concentrating on counting the number of steps?
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We love out 5th graders. Some days you gotta dance.
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Here comes that scorpion….

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The dad’s were out there shaking it today…well done gentleman!

100th Post! The 8th Annual Pittsburgh Conference on Child Maltreatment

100 posts.  Sounds like a line from a fencing company.  But it is a big deal to us at dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh.

A few months ago, we received a request to make a presentation at a conference being held here in Pittsburgh.  The 8th Annual Pittsburgh Conference on Child Maltreatment, presented by the Child Advocacy Center at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.  They recognized the value of what we offer these young ladies and gentleman  and wanted to afford us the opportunity to share this with other professionals.  Oh yeah, and they wanted us to have the kids come and perform!   So we did.  We had students representing Pittsburgh Langley, Pittsburgh Concord,  Pittsburgh Lincoln, Pittsburgh Sunnyside, Pittsburgh Weil, and Pittsburgh Montessori.  Pittsburgh Langley sent some of their 5th graders, and some of their 8th Graders.  Our teaching artist, Miss Ashley Douglas was on hand to run the show for more than 250 conference attendees on Thursday April 25.  WPXI tv was also on hand and they filmed a little bit and aired it at the 530PM news.  Take a look at how our ladies  and gentleman did…

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Our 5th graders warming up
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5th graders from Pittsburgh Concord doing the foxtrot.
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Here comes the Scorpion in the Tango!
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8th graders from Pittsburgh Langley performing the foxtrot under the watchful eyes of Miss Ashley Douglas
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Pittsburgh Langley 8th graders performing the foxtrot.
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The fifth graders getting their scorpion on the move!
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Our 5th graders checking out the 8th graders moves

So the 5th graders and the 8th graders totally wowed the audience.  They were elegant, they were respectful, they were just plain awesome.  They made us and their schools proud.

So the next day, we made a presentation about the program.  In what might have been one of the greatest  “aha!” moments, the looks on the faces of the participants in our presentation when we told them to go to the back of the room and form a circle.  Yes! We did a sample first lesson.

Miss Gena Melago rounded them up and began to teach.  Mr. Pierre Dulaine would have been proud.  We went from red light to green light to pancakes to burnt pancakes to crispy chicken wings.  It was great.  A lot of laughter and joy.  A lot of smiles.  A lot of fun.  A lot of people wanting to come and see the upcoming events!  Take a look at how much fun they had….

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“May I have this dance please?”
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and she responded “Yes, with pleasure” and some burnt pancakes thank you very much!
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Looks like they are going from burnt pancakes and starting to get those crispy chicken wings….
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Everyone had a good time.

All in all, it was 2 really great days for Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh.  Special thanks to Rob Wittman and Jamie Mesar from Children’s Hospital.  We are already looking forward to having the kids come and perform next year!

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!