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Dancing Classrooms Touted as Innovative Approach to Building Student Empathy

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Jan 22, 2016

A recent article in The Atlantic, on the expansive influence of movement classes, features Dancing Classrooms (focus of the documentary Mad Hot Ballroom) and their work using ballroom to teach respect, teamwork, and empathy to elementary and middle school students in economically disadvantaged communities. The piece, entitled “Learning Empathy Through Dance,” points out that the communities served by Dancing Classrooms are the least likely to have access to ongoing arts instruction. By providing access to arts programs, however, students are given more focused opportunities to develop a range of social-emotional skills.

According to the article, “Rob Horowitz, the associate director of the Center for Arts Education Research at Columbia University’s Teachers College, recently conducted a two-year study on the program in New York City whose results have yet to be published. In year one (2013-14) of the study, 95 percent of teachers reported their students improved cooperative and collaborative skills; researchers observed 95 percent of students demonstrating cooperative skills.”

“You can’t touch someone in the ballroom-dance frame and [let] that person, for any length of time, be an ‘other,’” said Rodney Lopez, global program director for Dancing Classrooms.

Read the full article here.

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