Dancing Classrooms Seattle

Building Social & Emotional Intelligence in Elementary Schools Across the Region Through Ballroom Dancing

For More Info or to Bring Dancing Classrooms to Your School Contact - Adam Lee - Outreach Director

Dancing Classrooms is one of the 3 primary programs offered by Pacific Ballroom Dance. It is a 10-week, 20-session social and emotional learning program that utilizes ballroom dance to cultivate the positive feelings that are inherent in every child.

PBD brought Dancing Classrooms to 13 public schools, 37 classrooms, and over 950 fifth grade students in the greater Seattle area during the 2017-18 school year. Teaching artists visited each classroom and taught Swing, Tango, Merengue, Foxtrot, Salsa, Waltz, and- most importantly- social and emotional intelligence “I love this program so much, the kids really learn love and compassion and empathy,” said elementary teacher Zoe Manzo.

The teachers at Sand Point Elementary loved the changes they saw in their students. Mr. Panelli said, “The thing I like most about Dancing Classrooms is the social emotional awareness that we get to see with the kids. They dance with every other student in the room and it gives people a chance to get to know each other and understand that everyone has different feelings and perspectives.”

Team Match impresses judge

The Fall, Winter, and Spring terms each culminated in a Colors of the Rainbow Team Match in which six couples from each school met in friendly competition to dance before a panel of judges.

Former professional ballroom dancer Don Walker, participated as a judge this year. His kind smile encouraged the kids as he watched them dance. He said, “I am… impressed and uplifted by the results achieved by Dancing Classrooms. I have been privileged to have judged the last two events. The improvements you have made in these young people’s lives is earth shattering. The seeds that are planted there will bear good fruit. I am very pleased and proud to be associated with such a great organization.”

Each classroom has it’s own unique challenges and dynamics, and in each classroom, our Teaching Artists impact students in unique ways.


Dance for the underprivileged and those with special difficulties

This year, Dancing Classrooms helped three homeless children through dance. “I had some troubled boys that didn’t know how to react to uncomfortable situations,” shared Teaching Artist Adam Lee. “They would often run away or become completely closed off. It wasn’t until later that I found out that these boys were homeless and living with people other than their parents or in shelters. I realized that they needed this program more than anyone. Their classmates slowly learned how to encourage them to participate and to be supportive of their good behavior.

They participated from then on out and learned how to better handle their emotions. They were able to become positive about the program and become great partners and even help others participate.”

In another classroom, one student with a sensory disorder and other difficulties, rarely participated in class. Touch was difficult for him. Something changed for him during the very last lesson. He said he wanted to dance and began practicing for the school assembly. He knew all the steps! His growth deeply touched his teachers.

At the same school, there was a foster child from Africa who had suffered burns all over his body and his hands were bandaged daily. He had a great attitude and loved dancing. His teammates were kind and accommodating to his bandages when it came to holding hands. It taught real empathy.

Another little girl had cancer and lost her hair. One phrase used to teach dance is “show your diamond and comb your hair.” When it was time to teach that part, her teammates came up with a new phrase “show your diamond and wrap your head” to help her feel more comfortable. Dancing Classrooms provided this opportunity for classmates to show love and support for each other.


Colors of the Rainbow Grande Finale

The Dancing Classrooms Grand Finale was on June 9th. This competitive element helps the young dancers focus and commit to improvement and gives them the opportunity to dance for their parents, teachers, and community. It also provides them an opportunity to build team spirit and pride for their school. Though only one first place was awarded, each school came away with a huge trophy and each student received a ribbon to celebrate their achievememt.

For more information or to signup your school, contact Adam Lee at Adam@pacificballroom.org.