Welcome to Dancing Classrooms NYC
Our mission is to cultivate essential life skills in children through the art of social dance. Our vision is to help create schools and communities where every child is connected, respected, and provided a safe environment in which to thrive. Dancing Classrooms NYC, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, was founded by Pierre Dulaine in 1994. Learn More....
Dancing Classrooms is made possible through the generosity of many individuals; we invite you to join us by making a contribution to our efforts to provide this internationally known and respected social development program.
Respect and Partnership, One Step at a Time
In our ideals, methods and effectiveness, Dancing Classrooms has much to contribute to our current national conversation about treating individuals, and especially women, with respect. Since we founded Dancing Classrooms 23 years ago, our focus has remained steadily on having each of our young ladies and gentlemen develop the essential life skills of self-esteem, tolerance, respect and partnership.
In the wake of Oprah’s powerful speech at the Golden Globes awards, Dancing Classrooms Board Chair Patrice Tanaka passed along to me a very insightful posting by Aedhmar Hynes, who heads a global communications organization. In it, Ms. Hynes wrote, “The solution is about more fundamental change - we must review and reinvent the culture of our workplaces around respect for all.”
Respect for all has been at the core of our program since the beginning, and has been a constant theme as we have expanded Dancing Classrooms to over 200 schools in New York City, and over 30 cities nationally and internationally. Self-respect, confidence and self-esteem carried through one’s lifetime is essential, and we work to instill these values in our Dancing Classrooms children starting at the young and tender age of 10 years.
Our values and our approach to teaching our young ladies and gentlemen work across many boundaries, visible and invisible. My ulterior motive when I took the program to the city of my birth, Jaffa – in what was then Palestine – was to give Palestinian Israeli children the opportunity to gain the self-esteem and confidence to dance as well as their Jewish Israeli fellow citizens. The process, and the heartwarming results, are shown in the documentary film Dancing in Jaffa. My recent time in Amman, Jordan, was motivated in part by giving the opportunity to Middle Eastern girls to shine in front of their male partners, proving to themselves that they are just as good as the boys, and not to limit themselves to being, in the Arabic phrase, “banat el mutbach” -- “girls/women of the kitchen.”
A personal note: In 1989 I was negotiating a contract with the management of the Broadway musical Grand Hotel. Tommy Tune wanted Yvonne Marceau and me as featured dancers in his musical, but management offered us only the salary of ensemble dancers. But we are not only ensemble dancers, I told the negotiator – we are a dance team, with emphasis on the word team. Take it or leave it was the response. I stood my ground – and the telephone rang again, this time with a much better offer. Had I been younger, and not as mature and confident as I was, I would have accepted the manager’s first offer.
I say this because if all of the people in the arts – the dance, theater and film industries – were to believe in themselves, to have self-confidence, things would be different. But when one is in such a vulnerable position, one will do things – almost anything sometimes – to get the job.
During my time in Grand Hotel, playing eight performances a week, I had the time to volunteer in one school on West 48th Street. Since then, because of our dedicated staff and gifted teaching artists, we have expanded to all of the boroughs of New York City and beyond, changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of children one step at a time.
In her Golden Globes talk, Oprah voiced the hope that “all the girls watching here now know that a new day is on the horizon!” All of us at Dancing Classrooms can be proud that for our young ladies and gentlemen, our work helps bring that day closer.
Pierre Dulaine, Founder of Dancing Classrooms
You've seen the films, now read the story that inspired them!
Taking the Lead is the inspiring story of Pierre Dulaine, the world champion ballroom dancer whose creation of the Dancing Classrooms Program has enhanced the lives of more than half a million children.
Read Pierre's firsthand account of how ballroom dance transformed a shy young man into a world renowned artist and advocate for the transformative power of the arts.
Purchase the book here!