The goal of the program is to immerse students in dance while teaching them social skills, respect, self-confidence and teamwork, said competition host Ann Guill.
âWe have seen the test scores for schools with the program increase. It helps fight absenteeism, it helps solve behavior problems, âsaid Guill, director of Take the Lead North Carolina, the nonprofit organization that runs the Dancing Classrooms program.
âWe have data to support the success of the program, but that’s mostly what you can see: just respect, teamwork, and positive interaction,â Guill said.
In the first round of the competition, the young couples wowed the parent-filled gym with their prowess as each couple performed one of the dances they had learned.
But in the second round, the couples – who wore colorful scarves to denote their school – had to choose a random dance in a hat to perform.
Dancing Classrooms instructor David Hawk said students are proficient in all types of dance throughout the program.
âAt first they don’t want to dance or even touch each other,â said Hawk, who taught the program to students at Smith Farm Elementary School. “But it’s baby steps, and then suddenly they’re dancing.”
Dance classes began in New York City schools in 1994, founded by Pierre Dulaine, a retired championship ballroom dancer.