School in Bayside wins gold in ballroom dance contest

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A group of swinging, light-footed students from PS 31 in Bayside took home the gold at the grand finals of this year’s Dancing Dreams ballroom dancing championship.

Principal Terri Graybow said 12 students from the fifth-grade danced their little toes off June 25 at the World Financial Center in Manhattan.

“The kids were unbelievably dedicated,” she said of the students, who advanced through two rounds to make it to the finals. “They practiced a few times each week. For 10- and 11-year-olds, they’re really impressive.”

Graybow said she and fifth-grade teacher Karen Canden stayed after school to coach the students on dances, such as the merengue, tango, swing, fox trot and rhumba. Even when the oppressive heat of Memorial Day weekend pushed them out of the school’s gym, the students’ passion came through in their dedication.

“They were practicing in the lobby with the doors open and fans blowing,” Graybow said.

For the Colors of the Rainbow Team Match, Graybow said the PS 31 students wore violet, adding it was quite a sight to see as the teams from each school descended the escalators on either side of the building.

Dancing Classrooms was founded in 1994 by dance instructor Pierre Dulaine to introduce children to ballroom dancing as a means of using dancing as a tool for getting children to break down social barriers, learn about honor and respect and improve self-confidence. The program is available for fifth- and eighth-graders at more than 200 public and private schools throughout the five boroughs.

Baysider Jody Surrago said her daughter, Madisyn Pozo, and her dancing partner, Rahsaan Davis, put on a stellar performance.

“She enjoyed the whole experience — learning all the different types of ballroom dancing,” Surrago said. “She wants to continue taking classes in the city.”

Students spend weeks preparing for the yearly competition, and they take a large amount of pride in reaching the highest levels.

“They graduated. This is their legacy,” Graybow said.

Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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