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Rio Vista and Valley View Dancers Win Silver Medals in Regional Competition [Video]

The 'Mad Hot Ballroom' program is expanding to schools throughout the Los Angeles area, and it helps academics, too.

Two elementary schools—where Studio City residents attend—were both Silver Medal winners Wednesday night at a regional Dancing Classrooms competition among 11 schools from throughout Los Angeles.

"This is our second year, and it is such an important part of our curriculum," said Kevin McClay, prinicpal of Rio Vista Elementary School in Studio City. "It not only teaches the students dance, but it teaches them social skills, politeness, discipline, teamwork and all sorts of things."

At Rio Vista, the PTA saw the importance of incorporating dance through this program that was featured in the 2005 documentary Mad Hot Ballroom. The school program started in New York City schools and is now in its second year in Los Angeles-area schools.

The students learn the foxtrot, swing, tango, rumba and merengue.

Principal Susan Kim of Valley View Elementary School started the program with fifth graders this year thanks to a grant, and she said that she participated in the classes, too, because Gretchen Garrett's fifth grade class has a 2-1 ratio of boys to girls.

"This is a great program, and you can see how the boys and the girls were skeptical about it at first, but they have really warmed up to it, and it has become fun," said Kim.

The teams of the two local schools won silver medals, while Serrania Elementary School of Woodland Hills, Laurel Street Elementary School of Compton and Eastman Elementary of East Los Angeles won gold medals.

The competition was held at the Roybal Center in downtown Los Angeles with hundreds of family and fellow students attending. 

"This is a movement to be a little nicer and kinder and be a little more civil to each other and make Los Angeles a kinder, gentler place for everyone," said Sophia Chang, the executive director of Dancing Classrooms LA, a nonprofit organiation that helps schools with grants to pay for dancing classes like this.

"Now you will be able to do these dances for the rest of your life," Chang said.

Blog: Witness the Dancing Classrooms from All Over Los Angeles


Michele November 16, 2012 at 05:58 AM
I have posted before about this organization. Dancing classrooms is such a postiive thing for kids to be involved in. They teach manners, respect, perserverance and tolerance to our young people. They learn to appreciate new music, other people, and themselves. They learn a sense of pride and most of all they learn that life can be fun and you can have a good time doing something you never thought would be "cool". As a teacher myself, i commend this group so much for doing this. Please support this group. YOu can like them at dancing classrooms Los angeles on Face book. My son was so excited to be a part of this

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