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Local kids swept away by Ballroom Madness

June 14, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Three dozen Boyle Heights students got some lessons in ballroom dance Monday, and learned a whole lot more in the process.Students from First Street, Second Street and Breed Street Elementary schools in Boyle Heights hit new heights by representing their schools in Ballroom Madness. The non-profit group goes into schools so kids can express themselves in a safe environment.

The young dancers spent 10 weeks with Ballroom Madness, learning all several ballroom dance styles, including Swing.

"I felt more happy right now than I ever have in my life," said Brendan Gonzalez, Ballroom Madness participant.

"If you put in the effort, you can actually accomplish new things," said Rocio Banuelos, Ballroom Madness participant.

For many of these kids learning to dance has helped them with their confidence.

"I feel more confident in myself," said Jocelyn Parra, Ballroom Madness participant. "I was embarrassed to dance in front of people. Now when I go to parties, I'm more confident to dance in front of people."

Many of the dance instructors can't help but notice a change in the kids.

"Their confidence grows. They're willing to work together, work together in teams, and it really does help to break down some of the social barriers that we see in school today," said Jane Dorian, executive director.

"I get to come in and be fabulous with these guys for a little bit and add something new and different to their day," said Danny Ponickly, Ballroom Madness co-founder.

Since its inception, Ballroom Madness has helped some 600 children in 12 Southern California schools learn to dance.

"It makes me really happy because we're sharing with other people our opportunities that we have because some other schools don't have it," said Maria Vasquez, Ballroom Madness participant.

"The best thing about this for me was when I was dancing I could show who I really am," said Benjamin Aranda, Ballroom Madness participant.

This event was also a competition, and Breed Elementary took home the first place prize.

Besides learning how to dance, these students also learn about trust and teamwork.


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