April 16, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Changing Kids Lives One Step at a Time

For Brentwood resident Jane Dorian, creating Ballroom Madness was all about her lifelong passions for dance, for kids and for giving back. Started in 2007, Ballroom Madness, brings ballroom dance instruction to 5th and 6th graders in classrooms throughout Southern California, and it is making kids, from Boyle Heights to Venice, smile on their way to school – some for the very first time.

Executive Director Dorian and co-founder Daniel Ponickly created the nonprofit program from their shared experience as professional dancers. Dorian, a founding member of Center Dance Arts at the L.A. Music Center, danced in the national company of “Hello Dolly†and numerous television shows. Ponickly taught dance in New York’s inner city public schools and was the Senior Teaching Artist with the “Dancing Classrooms Program,†the group profiled in the popular documentary, “Mad Hot Ballroom.â€

“I know how dance positively transformed my life,†said Dorian, an active mother and real estate agent in West L.A. “One afternoon, I watched a family at a local cafe doing the digital disconnect – parents on cell phones, kids on PSP. That was the AHA! moment and the birth of Ballroom Madness.â€

More than 600 children, in 12 Southern California schools, have learned about teamwork and respect through an artistic outlet that teaches them the cultures of Argentina, Cuba and Eastern Europe. Mayor Richard Riordan judged the Ballroom Madness Team Match at Santa Monica High School and the group recently received a grant to bring the program to six additional schools including downtown grade schools and an L.A. Performing Arts high school.

There are many “moments,†but for Dorian, it is the memory of the mom in a wheelchair dancing with her 10 year-old son at the end of his first Ballroom Madness semester that keeps her committed to teaching kids trust and partnership “One Step at a Time.†For information contact jane@ballroommadness.org

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