Dancing Classrooms Begins First-Ever Classes In Philadelphia

New Program Teaches Ballroom Dancing to Hundreds of Philly Fifth-Graders

PHILADELPHIA – November 6, 2007 – Nearly 800 fifth-graders in 14 Philadelphia-area schools area are learning to foxtrot, swing and tango their way across a ballroom floor in a groundbreaking new program called Dancing Classrooms Philly.

Over the course of the ten-week program, fifth-graders in eight archdiocesan schools, five public schools and one charter school receive ballroom dancing lessons twice a week from dance instructors specially trained for the program. At the end of the instruction period, the students will perform for their schools, parents and community. The best dancers from each school will then go on to represent their schools in a citywide competition on December 15 at the Merriam Theater.

Dancing Classrooms Philly is based on the successful program created by world renowned
ballroom dancers Pierre Dulaine and Yvonne Marceau in New York City, where it now reaches more than 24,000 students in 200 schools. The program has also expanded to several other cities in North America, including Chicago, Dallas/ Ft. Worth, Omaha, Newark and Toronto.

The Dancing Classrooms program was transformed into a national phenomenon in the critically acclaimed 2005 documentary film “Mad Hot Ballroom,” which followed Dancing Classroom classes in New York City through their training and to the dramatic finale at the final citywide competition.

The inaugural fall 2007 season of Dancing Classrooms Philly has been made possible by generous support from the Connelly Foundation, the Samuel S. Fels Fund, the Harvey & Virginia Kimmel Arts Education Fund, the Philadelphia Foundation, The Independence Foundation, PNC Bank, Glenmede Trust, and the Phoebe Haas Charitable Trust “A.”

Jane Brooks
[email protected]
Brendon Shank
[email protected]

Dancing Classrooms Philly founders Jane Brooks, Joyce Burd and Harvey Kimmel brought the program to Philadelphia to provide a constructive alternative to the risks that many of the city’s inner-city schoolchildren face. The program teaches civility, respect for others, and generates a positive attitude toward school. “We are thrilled to bring such an exciting, dynamic and positive program to Philadelphia’s schools,” said Burd, Dancing Classrooms Philly Co-Executive Director.
“We are just now getting started and already you can see the difference in the children. Not only are they becoming ballroom dancers, they are developing a sense of self confidence and opening themselves up to an exciting new experience. You can see it in their eyes.”

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has welcomed Dancing Classrooms Philly to teach more than 300 students in 10 different classrooms.

“Our students love their experience with Dancing Classrooms,” said Mary E. Rochford, Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Educational Services, Office of Catholic Education for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. “This is a great way to encourage our students to stay physically active and learn more about other cultures, music and dance at the same time.”

About Dancing Classrooms Philadelphia
Launched in September 2007, Dancing Classrooms Philly works with local elementary schools to teach ballroom dancing to fifth-graders. Now in its first semester, the nonprofit group is already bringing ballroom dance to nearly 800 students. The ten-week program curriculum includes the fox trot, rumba, swing, tango and meringue, all taught by local teaching artists. At the end of the program, students across Philadelphia participate in a citywide competition judged by nationally renowned ballroom dancers and local celebrities.

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