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Dancing Classrooms - "Colors of the Rainbow" Competition



The Dancing Classrooms program began in 1994 by ballroom dancers Pierre Dulaine and Yvonne Marceau in New York City as a not-for-profit program that now travels to fifth and eighth grade classrooms throughout the United States and internationally. While learning the dances is a great skill to attain, the dances are really an instrument to help students learn valuable life and social skills such as respect, compassion, social awareness, cooperation, confidence and self-esteem. To learn more about the original New York City program, visit the website Dancing Classrooms.

Dancing Classrooms Greater Seattle runs the program for schools in our broad geographic area. Every fifth grade class from Black Diamond Elementary and Sunrise Elementary worked with a school assigned artist/instructor twice a week for ten weeks. This is the fifth year participating for Black Diamond Elementary and the sixth year for Sunrise Elementary thanks to a variety of funding sources including, but not limited to, the Enumclaw Schools Foundation and the Muckleshoot Tribe. What a wonderful opportunity for these students to learn skills to last a lifetime!

The dance instructors each used non-dance terms, such as chopsticks feet, chicken wing arms, peanut butter sandwich, pizza, green light and red light to teach students the dance steps, while keeping it fun and relatable to the students. Students learned the waltz, tango, foxtrot, merengue, rumba and the general student favorite, the swing.

Part of the students’ work involved writing letters to their artist. First, students described their impression about dancing at the initial session and second, they wrote their impression after a few sessions. In many cases, attitudes regarding dancing positively changed. Some letter excerpts included statements “nervous touching a girl” and later “hope to learn so when I get to prom I know how to dance”, “I thought I was going to die.” and later “I would choose dancing over sports and ice cream.”, “It’s just a girl, not a monster.”, “If it was someone I didn’t know, I probably would have freaked out.”. Each student also created an acrostic poem about one dance they learned, which tied to the literature curriculum.

Six dance couples were chosen from each school to compete at the “Colors of the Rainbow Team Match Semi-Final” competition on March 19 at Todd Beamer High School in Federal Way. Sunrise students won gold in the afternoon competition and Black Diamond students won silver in the morning competition! Congratulations to all these students!

At the end of this ten-week program, all of these students were encouraged to dress up and participated in a special culminating event for family at their school last week. Every class had students performing two dances for the audience, and the dancing artist/instructor chose student readers who recited their selected student acrostic poems or letters. This special event at both schools ended with the entire audience being invited to dance to the macarena with the dancers. How fun!

The “Grand Finale” event is Saturday, June 11, and both our Black Diamond and Sunrise dancers will compete. Good luck to all our dancers!

Black Diamond dancing

Sunrise dancing