Dancing Classrooms was launched in 1994 as a not-for-profit project of the American Ballroom Theater Company (ABrT) in New York City. It is an arts program teaching ballroom dance to the upper elementary and middle school students of participating schools throughout the five boroughs. ABrT was founded in 1984 as a ballroom dance performing arts company under the direction of Pierre Dulaine, Yvonne Marceau and Otto Cappel. Dulaine and Marceau became dance partners in 1976 and won numerous awards and accolades. Notable awards include the 1977, ’78, ’79 and ‘82 British Exhibition Championships, the Fred Astaire Award for Best Dance on Broadway, Dance Magazine’s award for excellence, the National Dance Council of America award, the Dance Educators of America award, and the Americans for the Arts “Arts in Education” 2005 award.
The 2005 award-winning documentary Mad Hot Ballroom followed the students in the Dancing Classrooms Core Program from the classroom to the culminating Colors of the Rainbow Team Match. The documentary highlights the impact that Dancing Classrooms has on our students and the transformation that occurs from the first day of class to the final competition. Dancing Classrooms’ uniqueness was also highlighted in the 2006 feature film Take the Lead, which starred Antonio Banderas as the organization’s founder. The movie chronicled Dulaine’s efforts to utilize ballroom dancing to help New York City youth regain a sense of self-respect, pride, and confidence. In 2014 IFC (Independent Film Channel) released a third film, Dancing In Jaffa, which chronicled the implementation of the Dancing Classrooms program in Pierre’s birth city of Jaffa. There, Pierre spent 10 weeks teaching Jewish and Palestinian Israeli children to dance and compete together. These films greatly accelerated national and international interest in Dancing Classrooms.