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Gabriella Axelrad Education Foundation Announces Winners of First Ever "LA BALLROOM 2008"

03-25-2008 04:26 PM CET | Arts & Culture

Press release from: Gabriella Axelrad Education Foundation

/ PR Agency: Squires PR
Gabriella Axelrad Education Foundation Announces Winners

LOS ANGELES, CA - Sixty kids from six inner city Los Angeles schools danced merengue, rumba, tango, foxtrot and swing in a ballroom dance competition held at the Park Plaza Hotel on Sunday, March 16, 2008 in Los Angeles. Performed to an audience of 500, the event culminated the first ever LA BALLROOM 2008, a ballroom dance program taught by the non-profit Gabriella Axelrad Education Foundation ( and underwritten by the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation.

LA BALLROOM 2008 is based on the highly-successful New York City program -- featured in the inspiring 2005 movie “Mad Hot Ballroom” -- in which 11-year-olds from New York City’s public schools journey into the world of ballroom dancing and are transformed from reluctant participants to determined competitors as they learn the merengue, rumba, tango, foxtrot and swing on their way to compete in the final citywide competition.

The ten-week, 20-lesson program covers the basic elements of ballroom dance styles: merengue, foxtrot, rhumba, tango and swing. But the dance lessons are life lessons as well, nurturing self-confidence, team spirit, the joy of dancing and even a slight touch of Old World etiquette in an otherwise too-busy-to-be-courteous world. As the principal of one school in the movie says, "Ballroom dancing isn't just about the steps, it's about etiquette... it's about life."

Liza Bercovici, Executive Director of Gabriella Axelrad Education Foundation shares, "Our first year of LA Ballroom was more successful than we could have imagined. All the schools were cheering and screaming for their teams. It was like being at a football game!"

Participating schools for this first session of LA BALLROOM were: Berendo Middle School, Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, Milagro Charter School, Gabriella Charter School, Culture and Language Academy of Success, and The Accelerated School.

First, second, and third place trophies were awarded to the three highest-scoring teams.

First place: Culture and Language Academy of Success
Second place: Gabriella Charter School
Third place: Milagro Charter School

Audience for the competition included kids from participating schools and their family members. The judging panel included board members from USA Dance Los Angeles, a local chapter of USA Dance, the national governing body for amateur ballroom dancing and DanceSport in the United States.

Michele Wolpe and Ron Parker, board members of USA Dance Los Angeles performed a Viennese Waltz between the acts. Twenty-five Sutter Middle School kids from USA Dance Los Angeles' "Dancing with the (Future) Stars" kids program also attended as audience, and participated with the rest of the kids and parents in a dance party afterward.

LA BALLROOM 2008 received media coverage from The Los Angeles Times, as well as CBS, FOX, and Univision news affiliates. Gabriella Axelrad Education Foundation plans to continue the program in 2009.


Press Contact:

Livia Squires, Publicist
Squires PR
142 N. Clark Dr.
West Hollywood, CA 90048
(310) 273-4340

About Gabriella Axelrad Education Foundation - Gabriella Axelrad Education Foundation was established in 1999 in memory of Gabriella Axelrad, a 13–year old who loved to dance. Through its program "everybody dance!" the Foundation provides dance classes free of charge to inner-city Los Angeles children. The dance program currently teaches almost 100 weekly dance classes in ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop, modern and creative movement to approximately 900 children. For more information visit or email

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