The stage at UT Arlington’s Texas Hall will be filled
Thursday, May 23, with fifth graders from Tarrant and Dallas counties competing
in the fox trot, the meringue and other recently learned dances.
Dancers in a previous competition.
The Colors of the Rainbow
competition is the culminating event for Dancing Classrooms, a 10-week dance
and self-esteem enhancing course taught in 26 schools in the Dallas, Fort
Worth, Grand Prairie, Hurst-Euless-Bedford and Arlington school districts.
The Tarrant County Youth
Collaboration and the UT Arlington College of Education and Health
Professions implemented Dancing Classrooms, a national program, in North Texas
in 2006. Teams from seven schools will compete Thursday
“The kids get so excited for the
Colors of the Rainbow competition and the principals and parents do too. Watching
the boys and girls treat each other with so much respect is unlike anything
else you’ve ever seen,” said Larry Nelson, a UT Arlington associate professor
of kinesiology who has completed two research projects that are recognized
nationally as evidence of the program’s effects.
fall, Nelson and Tarrant County Youth Collaboration plan to embark on a
pilot project with eighth graders in collaboration with the Fort Worth
Independent School District. It will attempt to increase the exercise
benefits of Dancing Classrooms.
Classrooms is nearly 20 years old and was originally a project of the American
Ballroom Theater Company in New York. It was featured in the popular
documentary “Mad Hot Ballroom.”
of Nelson’s studies, published in 2011, showed significant gains in the degree
to which students felt socially supported and accepted after Dancing Classrooms
was introduced. Another study examined cardiovascular exertion during the
dancing lessons. The benefits of Dancing Classrooms were comparable to some
other typical physical education classroom activities, such as ultimate Frisbee
the upcoming pilot program, organizers hope to introduce Dancing Classrooms at
two middle schools and make three curriculum changes. Those are: increasing the
tempo of the music for each dance; increasing the tempo of warm ups and
instruction; and replacing low cardiovascular response dances (e.g., the waltz)
with more up-tempo dances. Students will wear accelerometers along with heart
rate monitors and Nelson will evaluate the results.
“Nationally, statistics show
that seventh and eighth graders are at risk for obesity and that physical
activity declines as a child gets older, especially for girls,” said Tacia
Torres, executive director of Tarrant County Youth Collaboration. “Because
we’ve seen the benefits for fifth graders, we want to see how we can achieve
those same benefits and even improve on them for the older students.”
Thursday’s Colors of the Rainbow
competition is open and free to the public. Texas Hall is at 701 W. Nedderman
Drive. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the competition begins at 6 p.m.
The University of Texas at
Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 33,800 students
and 2,200 faculty members in the heart of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.