Dancing Classrooms uses a curriculum-based teaching approach to achieve social awareness and build self-esteem. Students are taught the vocabulary of various contemporary social dances in a classroom setting. Each class in the series introduces new steps, reinforcing what has been previously learned through practice and repetition.
The Dancing Classrooms program was first launched in 1994 as a not-for-profit project of the American Ballroom Theater Company in New York City. It is an arts-in-education program teaching ballroom dance to the upper elementary school students of participating schools. As seen in the documentary film Mad Hot Ballroom, Dancing Classrooms is an in-school residency for every child, regardless of background or experience.
Following the 2005 release of Mad Hot Ballroom and Take The Lead (starring Antonio Banderas) in 2006, interest in the program was greatly accelerated and sites throughout the U.S. began their development of the Dancing Classrooms program.
Dancing Classrooms Northeast Ohio's Executive Director, Jo Jo Graham, was trained by Pierre Dulaine and has worked under his guidance as a Teaching Artist with the organization throughout New York City schools. As a Teaching Artist, Jo Jo has had the opportunity to witness the transformation of students right before her eyes. It is this journey of the students that sparked the interest in bringing the Dancing Classrooms program to her native Northeast Ohio. In 2008 the Dancing Classrooms program launched in Northeast Ohio schools.
While Dancing Classrooms has been hailed as an effective program for teaching social dance, the program provides many other benefits. Dancing Classrooms is about creating an atmosphere which allows students who are typically introverted and reserved, to step out and shine. It focuses physical energies and increases health through the joy of movement. It builds self-esteem and interactive social skills as it improves confidence and children’s ability to relate to others.