BALLROOM BASIX FEATURED ON PIX11 NEWS!
On Saturday, September 19th, we gathered in Maria Hernandez Park in Bushwick, Brooklyn for a BACK TO SCHOOL BALLROOM BASIX BASH! Some of our fifth and sixth graders from PS 86 and PS 123 in Bushwick showed off what they learned in class last Spring: fancy footwork and good manners!
"I was enormously pleased with their retention," noted BBX Founder/Artistic Director Sidney Grant "After all, they hadn't danced since June! This, of course, speaks to the calibre of devotion and instruction of Senior TA Mr. Chris and our dearly departed Miss Kat, who was tragically killed in a car accident in August, and to whom we dedicated the special event with both schools, as she taught in both of them."
Dancing with each other for the first time, these students from the Suydam and Irvington schools performed the tango, foxtrot, merengue, rhumba, swing and the barn dance!
“This is something that opens up their eyes to what it is to feel like a mature young adult,” said Ballroom Basix teacher Chris Raynor.
The transformational impact of our program was poignantly captured in student interviews: “I thought dancing with boys at first was disgusting. Then I got used to it. We learned lots of manners and dances that I like,” said 6th grader Sabae Hassan.
“He learned how to hold doors. He’s more polite,” said Sue Henriquez about her son who participated in the program. “He’s a boy, a little rough around the edges. So it’s nice.”
Since its inception 5 years ago, BALLROOM BASIX has reached more than 6,000 schoolchildren in more than 45 different schools. These kids were just some of the students we teach each and every school day.
For those of you who would like to support our meaningful mission, we have set up a scholarship fund to honor the memory of Kat Ledell, to whom the BACK TO SCHOOL BASH was dedicated. Please consider s generous donation to the Kat Ledell Scholarship Fund here is the link: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=LUCATS43ZJPTY
Check out the video below to see the Pix11 news coverage. What parents, the principal and participating students say is priceless:
NY1 NEWS HONOR! NEW YORKER OF THE WEEK!... and a nomination for NEW YORKER OF THE YEAR!!!
BALLROOM BASIX™ is proud to announce that Artistic Director Sidney Grant was nominated and subsequently selected this past summer for the prestigious honor of New Yorker of the Week on NY1 news. A correspondent and camera crew followed Sidney and his students through their last days of classes at the end of June, culminating in their non-competitive BALLROOM BASIX BASH™ experience... including a limosine ride!!!
Sid Grant explains the importance of the BASH concept: "Kids get excited about parties; the chance to dress up and have a good time. When we give them the red carpet treatment, it makes the BALLROOM BASIX BASH™ experience that much more special. I think the NY1 team did a great job capturing this once-in-a-lifetime moment in these inner city kids lives."
The BASH concept is a simple but powerful one -- using the BALLROOM BASIX™ curriculum as a catalyst for healthy interaction between children and schools who have never met before. What a way to bring together the "ladies" and "gentlemen" we teach in a productive and positive way. Operations Business Manager Reinaldo Gonzalez commented, "Parents and teachers love the BASH!...but like everything, it costs money. We hope supporters will want to click here on 'DONATE' to help out as we begin this new school year."
Grant used his interview on NY1 to reiterate the philosophy of his program. He poignantly told the correspondent, "I was bullied as a kid. I was also the child who was picked last to be on a team in gym class. To me, BALLROOM BASIX™ is the perfect antidote to bullying, to have an activity that by its very nature is non-competitive."
In the live studio interview, NY1's John Schiumo discussed the impact on the students served, asking Sidney what it feel like "when you know you have the kids hooked." He replied, "The greatest thing is to see the shift in the childrens' socialization skills. And because our syllabus is rotational -- while the kids are dancing -- it ensures that every student will dance with every one of their classmates."
Apparently this commitment to ALL children had an impact on the team at NY1 news. In late December, Sidney was one of only 6 NYers of the Week to be nominated for New Yorker of the Year! Congratulations to Sidney Grant and BALLROOM BASIX™ for this prestigious honor. Click here to view this wonderful segment:
SIDNEY GRANT WINS 2011 USA TANGO CHAMPIONSHIP
Gayle Gibbons Madeira and Sidney Grant, after winning the 2011 USA Salon Tango Championship. they donated their winnings to BALLROOM BASIX™
On Friday, July 22nd, Artistic Director Sidney Grant and his professional dance partner Gayle Madeira won the 2011 Tango USA Championship, donating all of their $1200 in winnings to BALLROOM BASIX™
The Championship is held once a year in New York City as part of the Celebrate Tango Festival. Argentine Tango is one of the most difficult dance forms to master. Sid and Gayle competed in the challenging "open salon" category in which the dances are entirely improvised. The judges (including renowned tango stars Nelson Avila from Tango Argentino and Jorge Torres from Forever Tango) chose the music and the competitors had no knowledge of what music they would dance to. The competition in this category includes dancers from other parts of the world as well as the United States. This year there were several Argentine couples competing as well. There are both semifinal and final rounds and the process takes several hours to complete.
On Sunday, July 31st, the pair appeared along side the BALLROOM BASIX™ children performance team on live television (Univision, Channel 41) at the annual Junta Hispana Heritage Festival in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. There were thousands of people in attendance to cheer on Sid, Gayle and the kids!
BALLROOM BASIX BENEFIT AN ENORMOUS SUCCESS!
Big news! BALLROOM BASIX™ is thrilled to announce that its very first fundraiser at the stunning Edison Ballroom raised over $40,000 to enable us to continue bringing the "fun, fitness & fancy footwork" of non-competitive social dancing to as many middle school children as possible, beginning in the 6th grade.
Our 2011 "Elegant Afternoon Tea Dance" took place on Sunday, April 17th from 2:00 - 6:00 p.m. co-chaired by husband and wife Nomi Ghez and Dr. Michael Siegal. Our Board member Lynn Shanahan was the music chairperson, and benefactor Karen Li arranged for the beautiful table settings. Our table hosts included Yvonne Ghaw, Nomi Ghez, Sylvia Golden, Karen Li, Romily Perry, Michael Siegal and Bebe Winkler.
The event featured a phenomenal professional show by Kamil Neiroda and Jemma Arnold, and an unforgettable performance by former BALLROOM BASIX™ students from Harlem: Fabiani Baez, Daisa Baker, Ferrissa Boodram, Eric Goodson III, Luis Guevara, Dennis Rivera, Javier Rivera and Jasmine Yarborough. Photos and video are posted on our Facebook page.
The afternoon also included an impromptu duet by Artistic Director Sidney Grant and his twin brother, Russell Grant. Sidney also performed an improvised Argentine Tango with professional partner Gayle Madeira. He also danced with his "role model" Patricia Ann Rubens, his mother, who flew in all the way from Santa Fe, New Mexico to attend the gala.
Guests at the sold-out event enjoyed dancing to the sounds of the incomparable Paul Errico and his wonderful ensemble, and DJ music during the set breaks provided by Jonathan Murdock. Our Advisory Committee Chairwoman, Tony and Academy Award winning actress Marcia Gay Harden, provided a video presentation, and Carey Davidson and Lisa Spaeth spoke eloquently on the organization's behalf.
We are especially grateful to our teaching artists and volunteers for making the event so successful. they are: Latish Cesar, Hecham Derdari, Patti-Ann Fitzsimmons, Nancy Frey, Russell Grant, Todd Gross, Seagal Hagage, Robin Handburg, Roger Kriegel, Stace Mandeville, Mer McGowen. Jonathan Murdock and Laura Spaeth. The event was photographed by Seba & Mika Photography (www.sebamikafood.com) and Cecil Price (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thanks to all our "benefactors" and "boosters" (and their guests) for making our very first fundraiser such a tremendous success! We look forward to continuing the traditional of the Elegant Afternoon Tea Dance next year. Please contact Business Manager Rei Gonzalez at email@example.com if you'd like to get involved.
"WE NEED TO DANCE MORE AS A NATION"
BALLROOM BASIX™ is in step with the nation's top brass!...the United States Surgeon General, to be exact! In a recent New York Times magazine interview by Deborah Solomon entitled Doctor's Orders, Regina Benjamin told readers how much she loves to dance, and talks about the benefits of dance for exercise.
Here's an excerpt from the interview:
What sort of exercise do you recommend...?
I want exercise to be fun; I don't want it to be work. I don't want it to be routine that you're bored with it. We used to...[go] to a disco to have fun and enjoy ourselves. We didn't go to the disco because someone said, "Go dance for 30 minutes."
When was this? When did you go to a disco?
When I was younger. I want to get back to doing things because they're fun.
Maybe we need to dance more as a nation?
Yes, I love to dance, whenever I'm at events and places with music, I will dance. That exercise is medicine. It's better than most pills.
Our Artistic Director, Sidney Grant, whose nickname is Dr. Dance, couldn't agree more. "I've always said to my students that Dr. Dance has the remedy for what ails you! It's truly amazing how partner dancing can be so physically and emotionally uplifting. And if the U.S. Surgeon General wants us to get back to doing things that are fun, what could be better than the "fun, fitness and fancy footwork" of BALLROOM BASIX™?
Click here to read the entire January 9, 2011 New York Times magazine article.
CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETY SIZZLIN' SUMMER SWING!
It's hard to believe a whole year has passed since the Children’s Aid Society invited BALLROOM BASIX™ to demonstrate just how fun our fantastic, fitness-filled fancy footwork can be at their Summer Fitness Jamboree 2010. Promoting the benefits of exercise, nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle, the presentation included pilates, boxing and even healthy cooking examples. Amy Kohn was the volunteer who coordinated our (enthusiastic!) participation in this special event. Originally set to take place in Central Park, the event was moved to the Dunlevy Millbank Center on 118th Street (due to the threat of inclement weather) -- ironically, just a few short blocks from the BALLROOM BASIX™ Harlem headquarters on E. 117th St.
Luckily, the rain held out and eight of our students from our pilot program school (PS 180) along with Mr. Sid and Ms. Lisa taught an exuberant group of young participants (together with a handful of adults) how to swing, merengue and do the kids’ favorite: THE BARN DANCE! Our talented young students fared well through the hot weather and got just about everyone off the bleachers to dance, young and not-so-young alike! It's safe to say we stole the show.
The BALLROOM BASIX™ dancers received awesome Children’s Aid Society t-shirts and high fives from the kids. The Children’s Aid Society staff was very impressed by our performance and instruction, and by the reaction of the crowd to our demonstration. We shared a mutual aspiration to further collaborate on programming that will benefit the health and well-being of the community children at comparable events in the future.