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Dance academy relaunched at Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning

DCA Graphic 2022
Dancing Classrooms is partnering with Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning (JCAL) this October to relaunch its beloved Dancing Classrooms Academy.

Dancing Classrooms, a nonprofit organization that cultivates essential life skills in youth through the practice of social dance, is collaborating with Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning (JCAL) this October to relaunch its beloved Dancing Classrooms Academy. 

The academy is a free, weekly after-school social and ballroom dance class for New York City students in grades 6 through 8. Classes will be held Wednesdays from 3:15 to 5:15 p.m. starting Oct. 12 running through May 2023. 

This is an opportunity for students to immerse themselves into dances such as merengue, the fox trot, rumba, tango, swing, waltz, salsa and more, while diving deeper into the cultural histories and evolutions of social dances from around the world. 

Under the instruction of senior teaching artist Akemi Kinukawa, students will hone partner dance techniques; expand their repertoire; enhance their social and leadership skills; and forge meaningful connections to other young dance lovers across the city. 

Along with the Core Residency Program, the tried-and-true program made famous in “Mad Hot Ballroom,” the academy has been a cornerstone of Dancing Classrooms work since 1999, serving thousands of NYC middle and high school students who credit it with helping them develop life skills and cross-school friendships they maintain as adults. 

Due to COVID disruptions, the program had to be paused in 2021. The company saw the hiatus as an opportunity to restructure the program with an eye on accessibility and equity. With dozens of longtime school partners located in Queens with students who could benefit from the program if it was closer to home than at a midtown Manhattan studio, they decided to restart at JCAL, a trusted institutional ally in the borough. Enrollment will be free. 

“Dancing Classrooms is thrilled to host The Academy at JCAL for Queens young people who have been bitten by the dance bug – either through our school-based programs or others,” said Nancy Kleaver, Dancing Classrooms executive director. “Still recovering from the aftermath of the pandemic, opportunities like this to reconnect with other young people and move in fun and meaningful ways are so crucial to their well-being. The skills and relationships that youth develop through social dance can carry with them into college, career and adulthood.” 

JCAL Executive Director Leonard Jacobs said that the center is excited that Dancing Classrooms is choosing to bring their unique and distinctive program to the arts institution. 

“We are consistently moved – and impressed – by social dance that is linked to cultural history, and, equally important, to the broader values of equity and inclusion that are at the core of our mission,” Jacobs said. 

The Academy @ JCAL pilot program is funded by grants from the Ellis L. Phillips Foundation and American Dance Movement

Click here to apply for the Dancing Classrooms Academy before Friday, Oct. 7. Limited slots are available.

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