The dance is the tool for getting children to break down social barriers, learn about honor and respect, treat others carefully, improve self-confidence, communicate and cooperate and accept others even if they are different.
Imagine using Ballroom dancing to reach beyond social barriers in our public schools. Dancing classrooms of North East Ohio is doing exactly that. Dancing classrooms is not a program to teach ballroom dancing, but rather one that helps students enrich their lives by experiencing what it is like to be ladies and gentlemen. "The dance is the tool for getting children to break down social barriers, learn about honor and respect, treat others carefully, improve self-confidence, communicate and cooperate and accept others even if they are different," said Jo Jo Graham, founding Executive Director of Dancing Classrooms Northeast Ohio.
By changing partners every thirty or sixty seconds, students learn to respect and get along with their classmates and accept their differences. "What may seem like magic from the outside perspective is really a well thought out and tried and true method (Dulaine Method) that the program has been using and continually developing since it's inception in 1994." she explained. Developed by Pierre Dulaine, a ballroom dancer and dance instructor from Jaffe Israel; the Dulaine Method uses ballroom dance to change the lives of children and families and is structured specifically for those in fifth grade.
"At the very core of the Dancing Classroom's philosophy (the Dulaine Method) is the essential respect that goes into being a lady and being a Gentleman. In a time when we bemoan the loss of civil discourses and our society seems to become coarser by the day, Dancing Classrooms is a program that demands the children not only treat others with respect, but also encourages the children to respect themselves." Jo Jo explained.
According to Jo Jo, the program does not base a students success on how well a student perfects their steps. Rather, the focus is on how well students demonstrate respect for others as well as themselves. "Ballroom dancing is merely a tool in the work that we do, as it requires two individuals (in this case a lady and a gentleman) to physically connect in a respectful and meaningful way and then work together to achieve a common goal - the dance steps being taught," she said.
Although taught in the schools, Dancing Classrooms is intended to be a community effort. "...the implementation of our program within the schools always takes the support of the community to implement within our communities. This also leads to additional family and community engagement within the classroom which then, in turn, contributes to an improved academic experience for our children!" Jo Jo exclaimed.
For more information on the Dulaine Method, visit www.dancingclassroomsneo.org.
About the Author:Melva Gail Smith is a disabled dance enthusiast from Louisville, KY who enjoys promoting the health and social benefits of both dancesport and linedancesport through her writings. Melva has written for USA Dance, as well as various online magazines; and is the inspiration of dance choreographer Ira Weisburd's Breathe Freely Campaign for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Awareness.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the AccessDance Network. Be aware that imagery is copyrighted and often licensed for use on AccessDance only. Copying of images is strictly prohibited.
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