Dancing Classrooms

Transforming Lives One Step at a Time®

Dancing Classrooms: Transforming Lives One Step at a Time is a social development artist-led residency program geared for 4th, 5th, and 8th grade students, regardless of background or experience, using the vehicle of ballroom dancing to build students’ social and emotional literacy, confidence, self-esteem, and respect for others.

Program Description

5/2/08, North Babylon. For a RGL LIPEOPLE story by Marcelle Fischler. Arms locked with their dance partners 5th graders get ready to exit their Social Dancing class at William DeLuca Elementary School. Seen in background right is Principal Norann McManus. Photo: Phil Marino.Over the course of ten weeks, two lessons a week, students learn the following through a dynamic, authentic experience:

  • A diverse range of social ballroom dances that collectively incorporate Cuban, Latin American, Northern European, and African American cultural influences—merengue, rumba, fox trot, waltz, tango, swing, heel-toe polka (4th & 5th grade only), salsa (8th grade only) and line dances;
  • The music and cultural history of each dance form;
  • The ability to dance in harmony with a partner—which assists students in developing a responsive, supportive relationship with the opposite sex and with each other;
  • A strong sense of balance and flexibility;
  • increased sense of physical and emotional well-being through the joy of movement;
  • An ability to respect differences in their peers while simultaneously achieving effective team work.

Each class introduces new steps and reinforces what has been previously learned through practice and repetition. The course culminates in a special social activity geared toward giving students the opportunity to feel a sense of accomplishment, inviting their parents and friends to participate with them.

Dancing Classrooms serves all children on the selected grade level including special needs children; there are no pre-requisites and previous experience is never necessary; all classes are conducted in English; and classroom teachers are required to fully participate in each class as well as in planning sessions.

dclsrm1Dancing Classrooms’ curriculum-based syllabus is presented in a meaningful, accessible manner and provides students and educators alike with an artist-based program that meets New York State Arts, Health, CDOS and Social Studies Learning Standards:

  • Creating, performing and participating in the arts;
  • Knowing the tools and resources of the dance artist;
  • Understanding the cultural dimensions of dance;
  • Improving students’ self-perceptions as well as their perceptions of others;
  • Establishing the necessary knowledge and skills for maintaining personal fitness and health;
  • Using skills that promote discipline, cooperation, and respect for the diversity of talent in themselves and others;
  • Engaging in life-long social skills and knowledge that enhance a positive self-esteem, building character traits essential for successful life experiences;
  • Learning foundation skills and competencies essential for success in the workplace;
  • Knowing the roots of American culture, its development from many different traditions and the ways many people from a variety of groups and backgrounds played a role in creating it; and
  • Understanding the practices and traditions that unite all Americans.