Cool Schools: Dancing classroom teaches respect, team work

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- When they were asked to participate in something called "Dancing Classrooms," the 5th graders at the Stoddert Elementary school in D.C. were apprehensive to say the least.

Fifth grader Ojani Perez remembered thinking, "It will be boring. I don't want to do it, 'cause I don't feel like dancing at school for no reason."

According to fifth grader Zarina Lewis, "The first time I was a little shaky, you know, touching boys and everything. It was really weird."

But after a few lessons on the dance floor they realized it was actually kind of fun. What they didn't realize is there was something else happening, too.

Cynthia Jones Cooper of Dancing Classrooms said, "The ballroom is used as a tool and in that tool is wrapped into the secrets of confidence and elegance and self esteem."

Dancing Classrooms was started by renowned ballroom dancer and instructor Pierre Dulane as a way to help young people with emotional growth and to learn how respect each other.

It started in New York City classrooms in 1994 and now he's hoping to expand in the D.C. metro area. Dancing Classrooms is looking for donations so the non-profit can offer more underserved students the lessons. As we've learned by telling their story, these lessons go well beyond the dance floor.

"I think it shows you how to have team work, because if one person does a wrong move the other person gets affected by it," said 5th grader Emily Arovolo.

"It taught me respect. You have to respect your partner always," shared Ojani Perez.

If you'd like to help the lessons continue go to or send an email to more information.


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