Chicago youth learn life skills through dance

May 5, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Chicago Dance Institute, a non-for-profit arts organization is bringing dance to Chicago's youth. For the past two weeks they have been in residency at Burr Elementary School in Bucktown working with third, fourth and fifth graders. Recently, some of these fourth graders danced to Elvis Presley's Don't Be Cruel.

"This makes me really confident and I am having a lot of fun," said Bryan Montalban, Burr Elementary School.

"You get all your energy that you use in school in a way that is fun," said Genesis McCullun, Burr Elementary School.

"I believe it has increased their confidence they are more energetic in the classroom," said Catherine Babaro, Burr Elementary teacher.

The fifth grade class was dancing to Michael Jackson's Beat It. The students learned how to battle and shine on the dance floor.

"It helps me to dance better and I have learned all about Michael Jackson's moves," said Rehien Jackson, Burr Elementary School.

Master teaching artist Jennifer Box travels around the country teaching children the skills they need to succeed.

"Being able to get these kids who have never danced in their lives to come together work as a team and project confidence," said Box.

"It helps me focus on a lot of things during class like math and vocabulary and reading," said Eddy Pinero, Burr Elementary School.

Chicago Dance Institute is the brainchild of Nicole Kawell. She says the program is a great opportunity for children to learn how to channel all of their energy.

"My mission is really to use dance as a catalyst to teach life skills. This is really their opportunity to succeed and I feel they have accomplished something," said Kaswell.

The students will be performing on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. at Burr Elementary in Bucktown.

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