Pierre and Antonio

Antonio and Pierre

When I was writing the other day about the movie Take The Lead, I got curious about Mr. Dulaine’s work and filosofy. “It was just an experiment,” he said.

But … he knew it would work: he himself  started dancing at the age of 14 and says it transformed him from a shy young man who rarely smiled into a confident adult with flair.

“I walked straight. I had savoir faire [expertise],” he says of his transformation. He became world champion show dancer four times.

Later on in life he saw this expierence should be passed on to children to learn vital skills like confidence and respect. That’s why he came up with the idea to use ballroom dancing as a tool.

“In the ballroom, when you touch someone with respect you become human beings,” he says. “You’re no longer a white or a black person, Hispanic, Palestinian, or Chinese. You become human.”

In 2005 they’ve made a documentary about it : Mad Hot Ballroom which became the inspiration for Take The Lead.

The Methode

Mad Hot Ballroom

Documentary 2005

  • Respect and Compassion; ballroom dancing can only be carried out by Ladies and Gentlemen. Thats why every participant knows how to behave. This includes trainers too, because not all addults have grown up nice and smoothely.
  • In the moment; everybody needs to focus fully when taking a lesson or teaching. In that way teachers understand their pupils initiutively.
  • Safe places; in ballrooms everyone is respected equally.
  • Order and Discipline; teachers are in command of their classes and use group dynamics to cherish every individual.
  • [body] Language; entire attitude is one of openness, warmth, and genuine affection for the children.
  • Humor and Joy; Humor is perhaps the most difficult, yet powerful teaching tool for a teacher to master. Gentle humor can help a shy child become less self-conscious; humor with that same child handled poorly can make him or her permanently retreat. They are playful, they are present, and the children can sense they are just plain happy to be with them.

“Being in such a safe place, where the boundaries are clear, the Teaching Artist is fully present, where respect and compassion reign – these are the elements that bring joy into the lives of the Dancing Classrooms children.”


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