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CS 211 dancers win ballroom competition

A new addition to the showcase at Community School 211 is the three-foot-high trophy the eighth grade won at the Colors of the Rainbow Team Match 2008 ballroom dance competition.

Held at the Winter Garden of the World Financial Center, C.S. 211 won against teams representing eight schools from the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens.

“We used to say that C.S. 211 is the best in the Bronx, but when it comes to dancing, our eighth-graders have just shown that they are the best in the city,” said principal Betty Gonzalez-Soto.

The eighth-grade ballroom dancing couples from the Prospect Avenue are Noel Cruz and Leslie Lebron; Javielis Pagan and Rancel Grullon; Victor Padilla and Juliert Mejia; Rudy Pichardo and Curtice Battle; Eduardo Torrez and Amanda Maldonado; and Edgardo Robles and Michelle Santiago.

“It was exciting to see how well these children who had never been on a stage in front of a large audience before conquered their fear and danced their best,” said Gonzalez-Soto.

In the first round, each of five couples was required to perform a dance in which the couple excelled, which could be either the meringue, fox trot, salsa, tango, or swing. In the second round, each couple drew the name of another dance to perform. The third round was a dance-off among the three gold teams.

Dance instructor Xavier Auza, of the American Ballroom Theater’s ‘Dancing Classrooms’, coached the children throughout the spring. At C.S. 211, Diana Paredes, bilingual coordinator, helped supervise the students’ practice in between Auza’s weekly visits.

 “What happens weekly is important, but it is the competition itself that brings everything the children have learned into focus,” said Ida Kivelevich, arts coordinator at C.S. 211.

The American Ballroom Theater was introduced to C.S. 211 over 10 years ago by the Ida and William Rosenthal Foundation, which supports arts programs in the school. Although Dancing Classrooms is intended primarily for fifth-graders, the program has proved so popular at C.S. 211, that it was extended to the sixth-grade, and then piloted to the eighth.

“We have had a wonderful relationship with Pierre Dulaine and the teachers from ‘Dancing Classrooms’ over the years. In the past we have won in the Bronx, but it took us a decade to win the All City Challenge Trophy, “said Kivelevich.

Pierre Dulaine and Yvonne Marceau founded “Dancing Classrooms,” a program organized by the American Ballroom Theater, in 1994. The program uses social dance to build confidence and teamwork, stretch creative skills, and support academic excellence.

And it works.  “I am so proud of my students,” said Gonzalez-Soto.  “They looked like little Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaires out there.”

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