Dancing Classrooms VI Colors of the Rainbow Team Match Competition Is Set for Dec. 15


Dancing Classrooms students at Guy Benjamin School practice their moves in front of fellow students.

Get ready for an exciting night of dancing in Winston Wells ball field on Saturday, December 15, when Dancing Classrooms V.I. participants will showcase their talent for the community.

Fifth grade students at Julius E. Sprauve School, Guy Benjamin School and Gifft Hill School will compete in the Dancing Classrooms’ Colors of the Rainbow Team Match Competition starting at 4:30 p.m.

The night will also feature an exhibition from eighth graders from GHS, JESS and V.I. Montessori and International Academy, who also participated in the program.

All of the students and teaching artists — Teresa Fraguada at GHS, Katie Zaytoun at JESS and Gina Wellner at GBS ­— have been working hard over the past few months to master the steps to Merengue, Rhumba, Tango, Fox Trot and Swing.

And December 15 will be their chance to wow the crowd and the judges. There is no entrance fee and the program is open to all. Organizers, however, ask that attendees respect the designated seating for teams, teachers and family members, explained Katie Zaytoun, Dancing Classrooms VI director.

“We really want people to come out and cheer on their teams and school, but we do ask they don’t take the seats set aside for teachers and families,” she said.

Rodney Lopez will emcee the Team Match Competition.

Usually hosted by Dancing Classrooms founder Pierre Dulaine, this year the event will be emceed by  Dancing Classrooms National Director Rodney Lopez, who shot to fame in the documentary “Mad Hot Ballroom” as a teaching artist in New York City, Zaytoun explained.

“Rodney Lopez is the National Program Director for Dancing Classrooms and he is really well known from the ‘Mad Hot Ballroom’ documentary as the teaching artist whose team won,” said Zaytoun. “He’s a familiar face and he’s been with the program a long time. We’re really excited that he’s coming down to emcee the Colors of the Rainbow.”

The competition has three rounds. The first round will feature a team from each school dancing each of the required dances, merengue, fox trot, rhumba, tango and swing.

The second round will have each of the dance teams picking a dance name out of a hat which they will then have to perform. The third round features an honorary dance,  which could determine the winners if the match is close.

After three rounds, the judges will tally the scores and announce a bronze, silver and gold winner.

While GBS did win the competition two years in a row, JESS and GHS have also impressed the judges in previous Colors of the Rainbow Team Match Competitions, explained Zaytoun.

“It’s really been all over the board,” she said. “Any school could win.”

While it remains to be seen who will take home the gold on December 15, all of the students in Dancing Classrooms VI have learned valuable life lessons, Zaytoun added.

“The kids have been working really hard and we just had their culminating events,” said the Dancing Classrooms VI director. “There are 20 lessons in the program and the 20th lesson is their culminating event where they show all of the dances they’ve learned and showcase projects they’ve created.”

In addition to mastering the dance steps, Dancing Classrooms students have also created research projects, art work, writing reflections and more, explained Zaytoun.

“All of their projects are woven into the culminating event and it’s a time for all of the children to shine,” she said. “Because at the Colors of the Rainbow only six ladies and six gentlemen are selected to perform. So the culminating event is a chance for everyone to showcase their talent.”

Through the medium of ballroom dance, Dancing Classrooms also teaches self-respect and team work and the program relies on school support, Zaytoun added.

“The schools have been so supportive and I want to thank all of the participating teachers and staff who have worked with us,” she said. “We couldn’t have done it without the help of the schools and their partnership with us.”

Dancing Classrooms also strives to improve the overall school culture and will be around for years to come, Zaytoun explained.

“This is something that students can look forward to each year,” said Zaytoun. “The schools like us to do it in the beginning of the year because it really sets the tone for what we’re expecting from the students. The life lessons, respect, showing elegance and being able to work as a team strengthen the classroom community and brings the school community together as well.”

“We’re trying to improve the overall school culture through the program,” she said. “The self-confidence and boost of self-esteem you see in the students is also reflected in their academics as well.”

For more information about Dancing Classrooms VI, check out the website www.dancingclassroomsvi.org.