Stamford first lady Maureen Pavia is accustomed to performing graceful dance moves. As an accomplished ballroom dancer, dance teacher and choreographer, Pavia is well aware of the transforming power of the art form. Next month, she'll share that awareness with Stamford youngsters when she introduces Dancing Classrooms here. It will be the first program of its kind in the state.
"I'm thrilled, I'm absolutely thrilled, to be launching the program in the state of Connecticut," Pavia said during a Dancing Classrooms demonstration with youngsters at the Boys & Girls Club of Stamford on Friday afternoon. The arts-in-education program will be offered to fourth- and fifth-graders at the club and at Waterside School.
Dancing Classrooms was established in 1994 on the philosophy that children's self-esteem, personal confidence and social connections can be enhanced through dance. It is the educational component of New York's American Ballroom Theater Company. Co-founder Pierre Dulaine gave the demonstration in Stamford on Friday. His approach was the basis for the film "Take the Lead" starring Antonio Banderas.
Pavia traveled to New York in November for a week of training on how to implement Dancing Classrooms. "I found out a whole new approach to social development and a whole new approach to arts and education respect and politeness," said Pavia.
She'll kick off Dancing Classrooms in Stamford the week of Jan. 10. She'll teach at Waterside School, and dancer Maribel Velasco, of Fairfield, will teach at the Boys & Girls Club.
The endeavor is part of Pavia's Stamford Gives Back Association. She said she's grateful for the community support she's received, which has included fundraisers by some local businesses.
"We were so proud to raise the money for the Stamford Boys & Girls Club and to encourage kids," said Nagi Osta of Nagi Jewelers, which raised $8,000. "This is teaching them self-esteem and discipline."
Have you ever taken a dance class?