Watch CBS News

Washington Heights Fourth-Graders Learn Life Lessons Through Dance

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Kids across New York City are dancing up a storm.

As CBS2's Cindy Hsu reported, they are getting ready for a competition, and they're learning a lot more than just dance steps.

At P.S. 128 in Washington Heights, fourth-graders are learning everything from swing to the foxtrot to the tango. But they're also learning about teamwork and respect.

"When we switch partners, we have to say, 'May I please have the dance?'" said Lillybeth Rodriguez, 10.

"You have to be elegant and sometimes you can have problems with your partner because he's probably sweaty and stuff," added Julianne Brand, also 10.

The program is called Dancing Classrooms, and it even inspired the documentary "Mad Hot Ballroom." The children learn dance twice a week during the school day.

And even the principal hits the floor.

"No matter what's going on, I break it up by coming in here and dancing only for a few minutes, and I feel like the world has gone away again," said Principal Rosa Argelia Arredondo.

The hope is that kids learn to really connect.

"There's so many electronic devices that kids are plugged into today," said Rodney Lopez of Dancing Classrooms. "But what Dancing Classrooms is really about, it's about being social, looking at somebody in the eye, making a human connection with somebody."

Some of the students told Hsu it's life-changing.

"I feel like, I don't know, I'm in heaven dancing with God or something," said 10-year-old Ysmarjuri Gabin.

Others say it took some getting used to.

"Now I feel like, let's do this. Come on, I can do this all day if I need to," said Jayden Jaquez, 10.

Jayden even says it would be a great class for bullies.

"They can learn how to respect others, treat each other how they want to be treated and be a better person," he said.

Next month, the students will compete against dancers from nearly 200 New York City schools.

They, however, say they're already winners.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.