Dancing Classrooms founder visits LC school - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Dancing Classrooms founder visits LC school

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

Whether the children are dancing the tango or the heel-toe polka, those who have seen believe in dancing classrooms.

Dancing classrooms introduces ballroom dancing to fifth graders at public schools including T.S. Cooley. But there's way more to this program than just fancy foot work. It teaches life skills. 

Teaching artist Lauren Morris says it's amazing to see after just five weeks.

"I think every school should have it.  You just can't understand what it does for the kids until you actually see it with your own eyes. They gain respect for each other.  They realize that they're not just girls and boys, they're ladies and gentlemen. They learn elegance," Morris said.

Children showed off dances they've learned from the rumba to the fox trot. Even the macarena!

The demonstration at T.S. Cooley was for a special guest -- world renowned ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine, who founded dancing classrooms nineteen years ago.  "Shake it!," he shouts as he joins the students in the macarena.

Dulaine knows first hand what dancing with a partner can do.

"I used to be shy. Very, very timid, spoke English with an accent when we came to England when I was fourteen years old.  And it changed me. And I believe that this dancing with a partner as a team can help the children develop for life and help build their confidence, their self esteem," Dulaine said.

He says dancing with a partner also teaches children how to work with others.

"If I dance with my partner, with a lady, I'll use my left foot. She'll use her right foot. It's team work and this sets things up for life for children so when they go out to work in the open world, they'll be able to work with other people in the office and develop skills for that," Dulaine said.

Seeing is believing and having watched dancing classrooms benefit 350,000 children so far, Dulaine's goal is to have reached a million youngsters in two years.  

Lake Charles is one of 27 cities in five countries with the Dancing Classrooms program. It was started locally by The Whistle Stop, a local child advocacy organization.

The movie, "Take the Lead," is about Dulaine's life and stars Antonio Banderas playing the role of Pierre Dulaine. 

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