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Maspeth pupils win gold in ballroom competition finals

Students from PS 229 strike a pose. The Maspeth school took home one of three gold medals in Dancing Classrooms' ballroom competition. Photo courtesy Jess Licata
TimesLedger Newspapers

A group of Maspeth students tangoed their way to a gold medal in the annual Dancing Classrooms ballroom final, but fell a step short of the grand prize.

PS 229 was one of three teams to win gold in the elementary division, but the fourth-graders were beaten out by dancers from the Hutchinson School in Westchester County for the top spot out of more than 200 schools throughout the entire competition.

“They were fabulous, they performed really well,” said PS 229 Principal Sibylle Ajwani. “They know if you are called right away, they got bronze. The second round we didn’t hear our name again and we were even happier. Then, of course, when we heard our name in the third round, they knew they had won.”

During the Rainbow Team Match Grand Finals June 23, students showed off their skills in the tango, rhumba, merengue, swing and foxtrot at Riverside Church in Manhattan. Each pair performed their speciality in the first round, and competitors had to demonstrate a dance at random in the second round.

“In order to win that competition, you have to be really good in all of them and that’s what gets you the gold as opposed to the bronze,” Ajwani said.

Each of the nine schools dresses in a particular color.

“Our color was indigo, which is a difficult color to get. It’s between purple and violet,” the principal said.

Then schools are called up in three groups to receive their medals, concluding with the top three teams lining up to find out who won the top prize.

“They knew they had a good chance of getting that huge trophy,” Ajwani said. “They were a little disappointed, but we’ll aim for that next year.”

The day after the final, PS 229 dancers were feted with a large celebration featuring ice cream in the school, at 67-25 51st Road.

“Everybody congratulated them. They knew they were famous,” Ajwani said.

The principal said she hopes to continue working with Dancing Classrooms, which pairs teaching professionals with schools for 10 weeks of lessons to prepare for the ballroom competitions.

“It’s becoming more and more difficult to make money in the budget, but we go through great lengths,” she said, explaining that fund-raising efforts help cover some of the costs for costumes and transportation.

Ajwani said the school’s third-grade students are already looking forward to learning the dances next year.

“It doesn’t get old,” she said.

PS 152 in Woodside also competed in an elementary division and placed with a silver medal, while Holy Child Jesus School in Richmond Hill won bronze in the middle school final.

Reach managing editor Christina Santucci by e-mail at timesledgerphotos@gmail.com or by phone at 718-260-4589.

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