The fact that a New York elementary school is located in one of the city's poorer neighborhoods doesn't mean that its fifth graders will lack poise or social graces. They are learning them on the dance floor.
Dance instructor Daniel Ponickly notes, "They just don't know yet how to become ladies and gentlemen, and, all of a sudden, I say to them, 'You are going to be ladies and gentlemen,' and (when) they come to class, their shirts are tucked. They stand up straighter."
Ponickly is one of more than 30 ballroom instructors teaching dances like the foxtrot and swing in New York's inner city schools.
"We're teaching them that they matter, and that they can show it," Ponickly says.
The program was started by Pierre Dulaine, a four-time British exhibition champion. Eleven years ago, Dulaine offered to teach ballroom in one New York City school. Today, his instructors teach in more 60 schools.
Dulaine says, "It has developed into being an arts and education program where the children will learn about ballroom dancing, and the different dances from different countries. But most importantly, they learn teamwork, having to work with a human being in front of them. That's not easy for a young boy and girl, lady and gentleman to work with each other."