February 25, 2016
On February 18, the YMCA of Metro Chicago’s Community Schools Initiative proudly celebrated its ongoing partnership with Dancing with Class at the fifth annual YMCA Community Schools Dance-Off, held at the Chicago Cultural Center.
Parents, friends and community members cheered on the youth from grades three through six as they performed a range of new ballroom dance styles. Audience members were also treated to a special Bollywood-style performance from the students of Edwards Elementary School’s Dance Around the World program.
“Through our partnership with the YMCA Community Schools Initiative, we are seeing the social skills we teach permeate each school community,” says Margot Toppen, director of Dancing with Class. “Students are taking these positive behaviors back to the classroom, where they then blossom into leaders and role models.”
Prior to the Dance-Off, each school selects a Wildcard. These dancers compete together in all five ballroom categories, respresenting their schools and their own unique skills.
“In my first class, it was fun because I really got to express my passion for dancing,” says Cecil White, Carroll-Rosenwald Elementary’s Wildcard. “I would sometimes get frustrated because I would get a part of the dance wrong, but that didn’t stop me, and when I got it right I was really proud.”
The city-wide dance off is one of just two annual events that brings the Y’s CPS students together under one roof for friendly competition.
“It is a joy to bring together our colleagues and families from each of our Community Schools to celebrate the achievements of our students in such a beautiful setting as the Chicago Cultural Center,” says Eric Werge, executive director of the Y’s Community Schools Initiative.
|CPS City-Wide Event|
|Best Overall Presentation: Edwards Elementary|
|Superstar Award for Swing: LEARN Charter|
|YMCA Community Schools Initiative Event|
|Best Overall Ballroom Dance Team: Hampton Elementary|
|Best Overall Technique: McKay Elementary|
|Best Overall Presentation: Sawyer Elementary|
|Superstar Award for Merengue: Claremont Academy|
|Superstar Award for Waltz: Christopher Elementary|
|Superstar Award for Swing: Nightingale Elementary|
|Superstar Award for Tango: Carroll-Rosenwald Elementary|
|Superstar Award for Salsa: Libby Elementary|
The YMCA’s Community Schools Initiative partners with Chicago public schools throughout the city and provides daily after school programming for students, as well as parent and family programming at its partner school sites. The Y’s Community Schools Initiative promotes through its programming the Y’s mission anchors of academic readiness, character development, violence prevention and healthy living.
Dancing with Class, the youth division of leading local ballroom dance studio May I Have This Dance, launched its after school dance education program in conjunction with Y in 2011. This 10-week dance curriculum is based on the belief in the power of dance to build and strengthen communities, unite people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and inspire joy, respect and self-reflection in youth, thus impacting school culture and climate in a positive way.
For more information on these programs and other dance programs presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, call 312-744-6630 or visit chicagoculturalcenter.org.
See more photos from the event.