Dancing Classrooms Brings Local Fifth Graders to the Dance Floor
Fifth grade students across Lee County have begun ballroom dancing lessons in their classrooms as part of the Dancing Classrooms program, a national program that utilizes ballroom dancing as a vehicle to build social awareness, confidence and self-esteem through the practice of social dance. Now in its seventh year, the program is administered locally by The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, and funded by Miromar Outlets. Students from seven Title I schools in Lee County participate in 10 weeks/20 lessons of training from certified dance instructors, and show their skills at exhibitions at Miromar Outlets. The final ballroom dancing competition called “Colors of the Rainbow” will be held on April 12 at Miromar Design Center. Participating schools are Bonita Springs Elementary, Colonial Elementary, Edgewood Academy, J. Colin English Elementary, Lehigh Acres Elementary, Tortuga Preserve Elementary, and Spring Creek Elementary.
Dancing Classrooms was brought to The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools in 2008 by Margaret Antonier, Founder and CEO of Miromar Development. Since its inception, the program has grown from 5 schools reaching 325 students in its first year, to 7 schools with 28 classes for a total of 595 students. To date, more than 6,000 students have participated in Dancing Classrooms.
“I was extremely impressed with this program from the beginning,” said Ms. Antonier. “Dancing Classrooms not only impacts the children, but everyone they will come in contact with in the future. It is an opportunity that gives them important tools for the rest of their lives. It still amazes me each year at the Colors of the Rainbow, which is the culminating event, to see the transformation of the children into young ladies and gentlemen.”
Antonier was inspired to bring this program to the state of Florida after viewing Mad Hot Ballroom in 2007. This movie captures the journey taken by a group of fifth graders from lower socio-economic neighborhoods in New York City as they develop social skills through learning the art of ballroom dance. Another movie, Take the Lead, depicts the efforts of Dancing Classrooms founder and director, Pierre Dulaine, to utilize ballroom dancing to help NYC youth regain a sense of self-respect, pride and elegance.
Upcoming events include:
- Miromar Outlets Exhibition on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 11:30 am showcasing students from Edgewood Academy, Lehigh and Spring Creek Elementary Schools.
- Miromar Outlets Exhibition on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 11:30 am showcasing students from Bonita Springs, Colonial, J. Colin and Tortuga Preserve Elementary Schools.
- Colors of the Rainbow Culminating Competition at Miromar Design Center on Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 4:30 pm.
About The Foundation: The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, Inc. is a private, 501(c) 3 organization established in 1986. Its mission is to enhance and enrich the quality of public education in Lee County for students and educators through programs, resources and experiences made possible through corporate, individual and educational partnerships. The Dancing Classrooms program is a national program administered locally by The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools. Through the art of social dance, fifth grade students learn self-esteem, respect for themselves and others, and teamwork. Dancing Classrooms is about creating an atmosphere that allows students who are typically introverted and reserved to step out and shine. It focuses physical energy and increases health through the joy of movement.