Dancing Classrooms

History of Dancing Classrooms

Dancing Classrooms was developed in 1994 to help meet the ongoing need to provide hard-pressed public schools with quality arts programs.  It is a holistic approach to build confidence and teamwork, stretch creative skills, and support academic excellence, using the rich and varied vocabularies of social dance to increase cooperation, to improve concentration and to explore areas of commonality, understanding and cultural awareness.

Dancing Classrooms introduces children to the art form of ballroom dance, which they can enjoy throughout life. But Dancing Classrooms is also a specific method of teaching dance that is designed to foster teamwork, mutual respect and discipline among diverse classmates.  Instruction occurs in the form of a 10-week residency within the structure of the regular school day. Through the mastery and performance of six basic ballroom dances, students develop a greater sense of confidence, civility, tolerance, and patience within themselves and for each other. Students improve their fitness and coordination as they focus their physical energy on rhythmic movement to music. Finally, the students broaden their knowledge of the artistic, cultural, historic, and geographic elements of the six dances. 

Interested in having Dancing Classrooms in your school? Please contact Mari Anne Hartmann at mhartmann@artsinmotionomaha.org

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The Dancing Classrooms Experience

In ten weeks of twice weekly, forty-five minute lessons, students learn the Merengue, Tango, Foxtrot, Rumba, Polka and Swing. In each hands-on, interactive session, students learn new dance steps, reinforcing previous lessons through practice and repetition. Teaching Artists, who undergo twenty-two hours of specialized training, work closely with classroom teachers to lead students in a positive, non-judgmental and courteous manner. Students are always referred to as ladies and gentlemen. To each other, students say please and thank you, curtsy and bow, and walk arm and arm in escort position into class. Their ability to relate to one another and to respect their differences is strengthened as they continually change dance partners. The inclusive nature of the dance curriculum means adjustment for students with special needs or disabilities is minimal. Classroom teachers are provided with curriculum integration guides to assist them in incorporating the Dancing Classrooms curriculum into lessons for social studies, English, art and music.  Guest Artists dance for and with the students and describe opportunities for dancing outside of school.  Often these Guest Artists are older couples who exemplify the benefits of physical activity and involvement in the arts throughout life.

Dancing Classrooms Teaches Social and Emotional Learning!

Social and emotional learning (SEL) involves the processes through which children, adolescents, and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

CASEL has identified five interrelated clusters of social and emotional learning competencies. The five social and emotional learning core competencies involve the development of specific knowledge, skills and dispositions.

1) Self-awareness: The ability to accurately recognize one’s emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior. This includes accurately assessing one’s strengths and limitations and possessing a well-grounded sense of confidence and optimism.

2) Self-management: The ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations. This includes managing stress, controlling impulses, motivating oneself, and setting and working toward achieving personal and academic goals.

3) Social awareness: The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures, to understand social and ethical norms for behavior, and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.

4) Relationship skills: The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. This includes communicating clearly, listening actively, cooperating, resisting inappropriate social pressure, negotiating conflict constructively, and seeking and offering help when needed.

5) Responsible decision making: The ability to make constructive and respectful choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, social norms, the realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and the well-being of self and others.

Interested in having Dancing Classrooms in your school? Please contact Mari Anne Hartmann at mhartmann@artsinmotionomaha.org

The Grand Finale

The program culminates in a showcase, a noncompetitive celebration, where the students perform for the larger school community, including other grades, staff, and extended family. 

Classroom teachers then choose six couples to move on to the optional citywide dance event. 

Any and all graduates of the Dancing Classroom’s program may continue dance instruction at Arts In Motion Saturday Scholarship program. Transportation to classes from two sites in Omaha is provided at no cost, along with dance shoes,  allowing students to further enrich their Dancing Classroom’s experience.  Learn more here


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The new Dancing Classroom’s Logo demonstrates the “May I have this dance?”  This simple phrase is so instrumental in teaching elegance, respect and teamwork.


Click here to view the Dancing Classrooms promotional video

Click here for more information on Dancing Classrooms

Click here to go to dancingclassrooms.com

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