Three ballroom dancing teams from District 26 elementary schools have been chosen to compete in the citywide ballroom dance championship, scheduled this week in Manhattan.Students from PS 98 in Douglaston, PS 41 and PS 159, both in Bayside, were going to the city finals after months of training, rehearsals and competitions to hone their steps."I'm very excited. I can't put it into words," said Samir El-Sawaf, a 9-year-old fourth-grader from PS 98. El-Sawaf has been practicing his moves daily during school-even during his lunch break-and at home. He was scheduled to compete with 12 teams from across the city, some with children as old as sixth grade, at the Toy Building on Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street.The competition and the classes are sponsored by American Ballroom Theater. Students have been featured in the hit documentary "Mad Hot Ballroom," and a feature film starring Antonio Banderas is on the way.Julius Adams, the music teacher at PS 98 who ran the program, said his students were more focused on the dancing they've learned to love than winning the competition."My kids have not even mentioned a trophy, which I think is beautiful," he said. "They still want to dance. The official program is over, and every time they come to music, they want to dance."Classes began at the schools in September and October, and students had instruction from professional American Ballroom Theater dancers. Students auditioned for teams in January, and the winners faced off in a Queens competition two weeks ago. At the finals Wednesday, the teams were set to perform one dance they have rehearsed and another chosen at random from a hat.Sheila Huggins, the principal of PS 98, said she first heard of the program at a regional meeting of principals last June."From there I was so taken by their grace and their confidence, I said, 'This is something that I would want in my school.'"
©2006 Community News Group
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