This Month's MagazineDining and SpiritsArts and EntertainmentTravel and LeisureHome and Real EstateHealth and WellnessShopping & FashionEvents and PicsElegant Wedding Magazine

Bookmark and share

Issue Date: November 2008

Dance Lesson

Nate Hoffman
JoJo Graham was 13 years old when she strapped on her first pair of tap shoes and dreamt of stardom. “I wanted to be a Radio City Rockette,” says the Hinckley native. “But I wasn’t tall enough.”

Determined not to let her height stand in the way, she kept on with the classes and found she was learning more than just dance steps. “Dance enriched my self-esteem; it taught me an incredible amount of self-discipline ... and provided me the opportunity to build my confidence through something I excelled in,” Graham recalls.

Today, as the executive director of the Dancing Classrooms Northeast Ohio, she has brought dance programs to four Cleveland schools: Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Bolton Elementary School and John W. Raper Elementary School, as well as the Elite Academy of the Arts and The Intergenerational School — both charter schools.

Graham’s passion for dance led her to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City, where she studied musical theater. There she learned about Dancing Classrooms, a program that teaches cooperation, respect and cultural awareness to young, inner-city students through ballroom dance.

Working as a teaching artist, Graham saw how the program paired students with different partners for each session, allowing them to interact and connect. “I realized I was part of something incredible,” she says. “The program not only impacts the students and their families, but the school’s entire culture in an extremely positive way.”

She pitched the idea of bringing the program to Cleveland to founder Pierre Dulaine. With his support, she returned ready to teach. “There was no program like this for me growing up,” she reflects. “I am fortunate to be able to bring it to the place that is still home."

Comments. All comments must be approved by our editorial staff.
Choose an identity
Other Anonymous
All of these fields are optional.
CAPTCHA Validation
Retype the code from the picture
CAPTCHA Code Image
Speak the code Change the code

Home | Subscribe | Archives | Advertise | Newsstands | Contact Us | Jobs | Legal
© Cleveland Magazine 2014 | P: (216) 771-2833 | F: (216) 781-6318 | 1422 Euclid Ave. Suite 730 Cleveland, Ohio 44115
This site is a member of the City & Regional Magazine Association