MARCH 12, 2001 VOL. 157 NO. 10
They're Having A Ball
Ballroom dancing--the waltz, the merengue, swing--is not only O.K., it's downright hot with kids
Cool ... Really great! ... Fun! ... Funny ... Nice ... So good ...
These are definitely not the adjectives most parents today would use to describe the formal dance classes they attended as children. But they are the very words Grade 4 students at P.S. 127 in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, N.Y., used last month to describe the first ballroom-dance class held at their school. In less than 45 minutes, these 9- and 10-year-olds had learned to dance the merengue, the first of 10 dances they would attempt in a 20-class session. Their dance teacher, Pierre Dulaine, is the artistic director of American Ballroom Theater, a dance company that has introduced ballroom dances to theaters around the world and also has an outreach program, Dancing Classrooms, that instructs almost 3,500 children each week in 37 New York schools. Dulaine treated his young dancers with great respect, addressing them as ladies and gentlemen. He and his talented teaching-artist, Victoria Malvagno, also joked their way through the class, banishing any anxiety the children might have felt about performing or touching a member of the opposite sex. While some of the children resembled little wooden soldiers, they all smiled and laughed as they learned their steps.