Help get ballroom dancing taught in Victorian primary schools

Advance ballroom dancing

We wish to expand the program by raising funds from the community, business and government. Help us advance ballroom dancing!

The partner-dancing program is unique, building invaluable partnership skills such as interdependence, trust and respect. Help by donating today.

Learn more about us

Find out more about our organisation, the sucess of its first major project and how you can help.

Read our latest news

See our media releases and other annoucements that report our efforts to advance ballroom dancing.

You can click this link or the image below to donatate via PayPal - just follow the prompts.

Dontate with PayPal

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Via bank deposit

You can donate directly via bank deposit. Our details are as follows"

  • Bank: Bendigo Bank
  • Name: Ballroom Dancing Foundation
  • BSB: 633000 Account Number: 186011466

For further information, email us at info@ballroomdancingfoundation.org.au

Check out the photo galleries with pictures and video

Seaford North Primary School photo gallery

Click link or picture to see students at Seaford North Primary School with learning ballroom dancing

Click link or picture to see students at Seaford North Primary School with learning ballroom dancing

Cheltenham East Primary School photo gallery

Click link or picture to see students at Cheltenham East Primary School with Karla Gerbes

Click link or picture to see students at Cheltenham East Primary School with Karla Gerbes

Read up on our latest news and developments

Psychologist: moving to the beat is what we’ve been looking for to help kids’ mental health

A ballroom dancing program has been piloted at Melbourne primary schools as a vehicle to grow children’s confidence and build resilience.
Mentone, Cheltenham East and Seaford North primary schools piloted the My Best Self program between July and September 2022.
Clinical psychologist Natasha van der Wall recommends the My Best Self program, which she says gives children the “experience of developing a strong foundation of wellbeing and emotional health”.

Natasha found the program “delivers positive social connection and children become aware of feelings when faced with challenges”.
The program is achieved through practical, easy-to-understand progressive dance steps in a program designed by school teachers.

Psychologist says ballroom dancing program is the help we are looking for to improve children's mental health

Psychologist says ballroom dancing program is the help we are looking for to improve children's mental health

Teaching positive values and improving mental health

The “My Best Self” program is an established Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) based well-being program targeted at senior primary students. It explicitly teaches self-management and interpersonal skills and builds the following emotional literacy concepts using partner/ballroom dancing for:

  • Inclusivity and acceptance
  • Respectful relationships and consent
  • Empathy and resilience
  • Courage and positive assertiveness
  • Connectedness and sense of belonging

Through the completion of a well-being journal, students reflect on how these concepts and skills impact their decisions, behaviours, and relationships, along with how they can support them through life transitions. They develop an understanding of what a respectful relationship looks and feels like in person. The children learn to focus on simple skills that develop self-confidence and respectful behaviour through interacting and working with others. They develop resilience and courage through body and mind control and learning something new.

The program culminates in a joyful and unifying community gala event which promotes teamwork, a strong sense of belonging and an opportunity for students to put their self-management skills and resilience into practice. The children perform three ballroom dance styles:

  • Samba
  • Jive
  • Tango

The children gain friendship and relationship skills, and develop good manners through eye contact, body language, tone of voice and words of positive encouragement. Dance skills come as a bonus!

Structure and support is provided throughout the program to allow students the opportunity to be vulnerable with each other and experience feelings in a safe space. Through the completion of the accompanying well-being journal and a student pre and post self-rating task, teachers can access growth data for their school’s well-being targets and determine how well students are developing their emotional literacy and interpersonal skills.

Psychologist says ballroom dancing program teaches positive values and improving mental health

Psychologist says ballroom dancing program teaches positive values and improving mental health

Beating the Covid blues

A national survey of 20,000 young people found lockdowns caused high psychological distress in 70 per cent of students affected.
Assistant Principal, Leisel Ward, from Cheltenham East Primary School, says the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns in Victoria over the past two years has seen an increase in the number of students reporting a lack of connection.

“It is the perfect time for the launch of My Best Self into Victoria to support the rebuilding of the community after sustained periods of isolation during Covid 19,” Leisel says.
Ms Van der Wall found the following skills “are implicitly woven into the program”:

  • Reflection
  • Gratitude
  • Tolerance
  • Goal-setting
  • Resilience

Ballroom dancing program helps beat the Covid blues

Ballroom dancing program helps beat the Covid blues

Confidence through ballroom dancing

DanceSport Confidence, a private NSW-based organisation, has rolled out the My Best Self program to 160,000 schoolchildren in NSW since 2006. School principals in Sydney have reported that My Best Self develops a new physical skill, and enhances social and communication ability. It also promotes positive interactions between teachers and students, and leaves them with a keen sense of achievement.

“It’s [My Best Self] not a dancing program; it’s a wellness program that uses ballroom as its vehicle for teaching,” said Matt Rooke, DanceSport Confidence’s Victorian Manager.
DanceSport Confidence is keen to spread the joy of ballroom dancing across Melbourne.

Psychologist Natasha van der Wall found children have “meaningful interactions” by connecting with others using their minds and bodies. “Self-discovery has never looked this fun!”
With mental health being the Number 1 priority of Victorian schools, this program is compelling.

The recent Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System “recognised the highest unmet need in education is mental health - in both primary and secondary schools”.

10 August 2022 | The News Bayside

Students at Mentone, Cheltenham East, and Seaford Primary Schools are learning to ballroom dance through a new program. Read on for more.

Link to PDF version

Ballroom dancing to help students with confidence

About us

The Ballroom Dancing Foundation is devoted to advancing Australian ballroom dancing.

Established in 2021, the Ballroom Dancing Foundation supports the advancement of Ballroom dancing culture in Australia.

We provide merits based funding to individuals, educational providers, dance schools, organisations and commercial groups to facilitate a broad range of development activites.

Supported activities

Encouragement of participation of Ballroom Dancing

Performance or exhibition promoting awareness of Ballroom Dancing

Social awareness campaigns for Ballroom Dancing

FAQ

What is the Ballroom Dancing Foundation?

A group of philanthropists who are passionate about ballroom dancing have donated funds and time to set up the foundation. The directors represent them - on their behalf.

They wish to remain anonymous and want the focus to be on the dancing and not themselves.

What are we trying to achieve?

We want to get more people dancing, especially since Covid. We are focusing on school age kids to instill a long-life love of dancing, plus engage parents and their friends. We want to give children options beyond the standard sports of footy, netball, basketball, and cricket.

Our first major project has been seed funding the implementation of a ballroom dancing program at three Victortian primary schools in south east Melbourne. We want to expand children ballroom dancing into as many schools as quickly as possible.

What is DanceSport Confidence?

DanceSport Confidence is a Sydney based organisation who have been running ballroom dancing programs for school children since 2006 and have trained over 160,000 participants.
Our generous benefactors have sponsored DanceSport Confidence to come to Melbourne to implement the initiative at Mentone, Seaford North and Cheltenham East primary schools.

Who are Lana and David?

Director Lana Zgoznik

I love ballroom dancing and play musical instruments - the piano and the harp. I also deliver musical programs to aged care facilities in my business. I have always wanted to make a difference in the arts and when a request was offered for a voluntary position, I jumped at the opportunity. (if really questioned - you could say. An acquaintance of the philanthropists reached out to me to be involved.)

Director David Brent

In earlier years, my social life included ballroom dancing. I have always wanted to make a difference in the industry and so became involved by donating my time and business expertise when I saw what the Ballroom Dancing Foundation could achieve.

Nearly 300 Victorian school students start ballroom dancing in new program to raise confidence

A ballroom-dancing program designed to build confidence, respect, partnership, responsibility and cooperation in children has been rolled out. Mentone, Cheltenham East and Seaford North Primary Schools are piloting the 'My Best Self' program.

The initiative is run by a private organisation out of Sydney. DanceSport Confidence has, since 2006, rolled the My Best Self program out to 160,000 school children in NSW. Through teaching ballroom dancing, My Best Self focuses on the values of respect, cooperation, partnership and responsibility.

DanceSport is the name for the sport of ballroom dancing. Competition DanceSport is in nearly 100 countries.

Example of the ballroom dancing program for primary school students

Example of the ballroom dancing program for primary school students

Excitement over the pilot program

The pilot program started in July 2022 and is being delivered for the Year Five students at Cheltenham East Primary School, Mentone Primary School and Seaford North Primary School.

The children are learning three ballroom dances and will perform at the end-of-term gala ball. Australian-champions, Matt Rooke and Karla Gerbes will be teaching Samba, Tango and Jive.

Assistant Principal Leisel Ward, from Cheltenham East Primary School, says the impact of Covid19 lockdowns in Victoria over the past two years has seen an increase in the number of students reporting a lack of connection.

“It’s the perfect time for the launch of DanceSport Confidence into Victoria, to support the rebuilding of the community after sustained periods of isolation during Covid19,” Leisel says.

History of program

The My Best Self program was created by DanceSport Confidence for the NSW Government, to counter the destructive effect on communities of the 2006 Cronulla Riots. Since the program commenced, more than 160,000 NSW school children have participated.

“The program expanded from the original six schools in Sydney’s Southern Region, to over 50 schools across Sydney, it is designed to provide children with essential life skills to navigate their social and personal confidence challenges.” says Gordon Gilkes, DanceSport Confidence founder.

This is achieved through practical, easy to understand progressive steps in a program designed by educators and approved by a clinical psychologist. The program is designed to be affordable and compares favourably to other extra-curricular options. Importantly, it’s not just for athletes and natural dancers; any child can participate.

It’s also safe. Ballroom dancing is not a high-impact contact sport yet provides a terrific way to get fit, with the added benefit of coordination and flexibility. The partner-dancing program is unique in, that it builds invaluable partnership skills one-on-one.

These skills of interdependence, trust and respect are vital cornerstones that help children develop the skills to build successful partnerships throughout life.

Enhances social and communication

School principals have reported My Best Self develops a new physical skill and enhances social and communication ability. It also promotes positive interactions between teachers and students, providing them with a keen sense of achievement. “It’s also an effective antidote to the social media and screentime epidemic,” Mr Gilkes emphasised.

A national survey of 20,000 young people found lockdowns caused high psychological distress to 70 percent of students affected. An additional research study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers Network in 2020 noted increased social isolation and reduced ability to support student wellbeing. With the assistance of a Melbourne-based philanthropist committed to spreading the joy of ballroom dancing, DanceSport Confidence was able to launch a pilot program in Victoria.

This not-for-profit chose to support DanceSport Confidence because it matched their values and was a proven provider to schools in NSW. Previous participants were thrilled with ballroom dancing, saying they found, “it was like magic and lit up their life”. DanceSport Confidence was ready to expand interstate and the philanthropists were ready to provide the extra resources to ensure the pilot program was a roaring success.

Teaching children ballroom dancing helps build confidence and social skills

Teaching children ballroom dancing helps build confidence and social skills

About the teachers

The program is privileged to have two Australian ballroom dancing champions teaching the DanceSport Confidence initiative. They have a wealth of experience and love teaching children. Now they have their own toddler.

Introducing this program to Melbourne with the plan of expanding it all over Victoria is something they have been working on for several years. We are so excited to have finally begun teaching in schools and help students reconnect with themselves and each other in the aftermath of the Covid19 lockdowns.

Dancing helps build respectful relationships and develops courage and resilience to deal with all life’s challenges. It is an ideal activity for the young in a post-lockdown era.

Karla Gerbes

Karla began dancing at the age of 8 and turned professional at 21. She had immediate success, winning the Australian Championships. She went on to win further national championships, as well as excelling on the international dance circuit.

Karla retired from competition in 2018. Her passion now is passing on her knowledge and expertise to her students, and sharing the joy of dance with as many people as possible.

Matthew Rooke

Matthew is a 12 times Australian Ballroom Champion and was ranked as high as 8th in the world. He has represented Australia on multiple occasions, at the World Games, World Championships, World Cups and Asian-Pacific Championships. Matt retired from competitive dancing in 2014 to concentrate on teaching and adjudicating. He wants to pass his experience and knowledge on to others.

Matthew Rooke and Karla Gerbes with baby Rudi

Matthew Rooke and Karla Gerbes with baby Rudi

10 August 2022 | The News Bayside

Students at Mentone, Cheltenham East, and Seaford Primary Schools are learning to ballroom dance through a new program. Read on for more.

Link to PDF version

Ballroom dancing to help students with confidence

About us

The Ballroom Dancing Foundation is devoted to advancing Australian ballroom dancing.

Established in 2021, the Ballroom Dancing Foundation supports the advancement of Ballroom dancing culture in Australia.

We provide merits based funding to individuals, educational providers, dance schools, organisations and commercial groups to facilitate a broad range of development activites.

Supported activities

Encouragement of participation of Ballroom Dancing

Performance or exhibition promoting awareness of Ballroom Dancing

Social awareness campaigns for Ballroom Dancing

FAQ

What is the Ballroom Dancing Foundation?

A group of philanthropists who are passionate about ballroom dancing have donated funds and time to set up the foundation. The directors represent them - on their behalf.

They wish to remain anonymous and want the focus to be on the dancing and not themselves.

What are we trying to achieve?

We want to get more people dancing, especially since Covid. We are focusing on school age kids to instill a long-life love of dancing, plus engage parents and their friends. We want to give children options beyond the standard sports of footy, netball, basketball, and cricket.

Our first major project has been seed funding the implementation of a ballroom dancing program at three Victortian primary schools in south east Melbourne. We want to expand children ballroom dancing into as many schools as quickly as possible.

What is DanceSport Confidence?

DanceSport Confidence is a Sydney based organisation who have been running ballroom dancing programs for school children since 2006 and have trained over 160,000 participants.
Our generous benefactors have sponsored DanceSport Confidence to come to Melbourne to implement the initiative at Mentone, Seaford North and Cheltenham East primary schools.

Who are Lana and David?

Director Lana Zgoznik

I love ballroom dancing and play musical instruments - the piano and the harp. I also deliver musical programs to aged care facilities in my business. I have always wanted to make a difference in the arts and when a request was offered for a voluntary position, I jumped at the opportunity. (if really questioned - you could say. An acquaintance of the philanthropists reached out to me to be involved.)

Director David Brent

In earlier years, my social life included ballroom dancing. I have always wanted to make a difference in the industry and so became involved by donating my time and business expertise when I saw what the Ballroom Dancing Foundation could achieve.

Parliamentary Secretary for Schools Tim Richardson to attend ballroom dancing gala of 300 primary school students

A gala ballroom dancing event to be performed by nearly 300 Victorian school students will be attended by MP Tim Richardson, Parliamentary Secretary for Schools. This will take place from 6:30 – 8:30pm on Thursday 15 September 2022 at the St Louis de Montford Hall, Aspendale.

The students - from Mentone, Cheltenham East and Seaford North Primary Schools - have been participating in a pilot ballroom dancing program since July 2022.

The program - My Best Self - is designed to build in children confidence, respect, partnership, responsibility and cooperation, through introducing them to ballroom dancing.

A first for Victorian schools, the Ballroom Dancing Foundation and DanceSport Confidence are working in collaboration to pilot the program. It is hoped the program will – with community, business and Victorian government support – expand across Melbourne.

Students at Seaford North Primary School with learning ballroom dancing

Students at Seaford North Primary School with learning ballroom dancing

Tim Richardson is passionate about education

Tim Richardson, the Member for Mordialloc, is passionate about education, which is further evidenced by his attendance at this gala event. Having benefited from the public education system himself, Tim Richardson ran for parliament to advocate for “more investment in our education system.”

Parliamentary Secretary for School since 2018, Tim assists the Minister for Education, Natalie Hutchins, supporting over 2,200 schools in Victoria. Tim works hard for local schools, ensuring students benefit from optimal learning environments.

Tim supports inclusive education, and ballroom dancing is a fine example of an activity in which all can participate. Regardless of gender, knowledge, experience, skills or athleticism, dance is for everyone.

Dance neither relies on good weather nor is special gear required; the children are learning in their school uniforms and sports shoes.

Parliamentary Secretary for Schools Tim Richardson to attend student ballroom dancing gala

Parliamentary Secretary for Schools Tim Richardson to attend student ballroom dancing gala

Pilot ballroom dancing program

The ‘My Best Self’ program has been brought to Victoria by DanceSport Confidence, a Sydney-based organisation working in collaboration with the Ballroom Dancing Foundation.

Since 2006 more than 160,000 NSW school children have participated in ‘My Best Self’. “The program expanded from the original six schools in Sydney’s Southern Region, to more than 50 schools across Sydney,” says Gordon Gilkes, founder of DanceSport Confidence.

More about teaching values than dancing

‘My Best Self’ aligns the values of cooperation, partnership and responsibility, and children are taught these through ballroom dancing. This is achieved through practical, easy-to-understand progressive steps in a program designed by educators and approved by a clinical psychologist.

Each child receives from DanceSport Confidence a special workbook. In this, at the end of each class, the children take notes. These indicate how the values they are learning – respect, courage and resilience – relate to dance. The students are challenged to apply these values to the particular dances they are learning.

The initiative is designed to be affordable, comparing favourably with other extracurricular options. Importantly, it’s not just for athletes and natural dancers; any child can participate.

Top quality teachers and program structure

The ‘My Best Self’ pilot runs for 10 weeks, culminating in an end-of-term gala ball. The program is being delivered to Year Five students at the three schools.

The pilot ballroom dancing program is being taught by Australian DanceSport champions, Matt Rooke and Karla Gerbes.

School principals have reported that ‘My Best Self’ enhances students' social and communication ability. It also promotes positive interactions between teachers and students, providing them with a keen sense of achievement.

Principal Wayne Bach of Cheltenham East Primary School reported, "The ‘My Best Self’ program has been extremely beneficial for our Year 5 students. We have seen the transformative power of the partner dance program firsthand.

Our students have learned how to connect with each other, and to persevere while also developing invaluable social skills and self-confidence. The power of the program is the resilience the students are using when facing challenging social situations.

They are engaged in the dance each week and have thoroughly enjoyed the experience."

Chelsea Heights Primary School Principal, James Ireson, declared he was thrilled about the program. He is looking forward to joining Tim Richardson at the gala and watching the students perform.

Tim Wilson, senior education improvement leader from Bayside Peninsula, said he was attending to see the results of the program firsthand.

Beating the Covid Blues

It is important to note this initiative has been included in the school curriculum to develop interpersonal skills of resilience and confidence, which are even more crucial after the Covid lockdowns.

A national survey of 20,000 young people found lockdowns caused high psychological distress to 70 percent of students affected.

An additional research study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers Network in 2020 noted increased social isolation and reduced ability to support student wellbeing.

Reducing screen time

Over the last two years of Covid lockdowns, children’s brains have been receiving more endorphins from device interaction such as gaming, social media and apps in which they are rewarded with ‘pings’ and ‘likes’.

Over the lockdowns electronic devices became all-important to children; they became ‘their life’. Many kids are finding it difficult to resume their former lives and, indeed, some have even become seriously addicted.

DanceSport Program founder, Gordon Gilkes, emphasised that “now that the Covid restrictions have passed, the behaviour [screen time] has remained persistent and significant.

"Face-to-face lessons, where students connect with music and others, is a boon for mental health and focus. Dancing releases a natural high through endorphins, the ‘feelgood’ hormone.”

Connecting to emotions

Dance is different from other physical activities in that it connects to the brain’s emotional centres, helping us process and release any pent-up emotions.

“Dancing is also more successful at reducing cortisol levels,” Gordon Gilkes says “As cortisol is a stress hormone, dancing can increase feelings of happiness and relaxation.”

Resilience and connectivity is what ‘My Best Self’ and this ballroom dancing program is all about.

Students at Cheltenham East Primary School with Karla Gerbes

Students at Cheltenham East Primary School with Karla Gerbes

10 August 2022 | The News Bayside

Students at Mentone, Cheltenham East, and Seaford Primary Schools are learning to ballroom dance through a new program. Read on for more.

Link to PDF version

Ballroom dancing to help students with confidence

About us

The Ballroom Dancing Foundation is devoted to advancing Australian ballroom dancing.

Established in 2021, the Ballroom Dancing Foundation supports the advancement of Ballroom dancing culture in Australia.

We provide merits based funding to individuals, educational providers, dance schools, organisations and commercial groups to facilitate a broad range of development activites.

Supported activities

Encouragement of participation of Ballroom Dancing

Performance or exhibition promoting awareness of Ballroom Dancing

Social awareness campaigns for Ballroom Dancing

FAQ

What is the Ballroom Dancing Foundation?

A group of philanthropists who are passionate about ballroom dancing have donated funds and time to set up the foundation. The directors represent them - on their behalf.

They wish to remain anonymous and want the focus to be on the dancing and not themselves.

What are we trying to achieve?

We want to get more people dancing, especially since Covid. We are focusing on school age kids to instill a long-life love of dancing, plus engage parents and their friends. We want to give children options beyond the standard sports of footy, netball, basketball, and cricket.

Our first major project has been seed funding the implementation of a ballroom dancing program at three Victortian primary schools in south east Melbourne. We want to expand children ballroom dancing into as many schools as quickly as possible.

What is DanceSport Confidence?

DanceSport Confidence is a Sydney based organisation who have been running ballroom dancing programs for school children since 2006 and have trained over 160,000 participants.
Our generous benefactors have sponsored DanceSport Confidence to come to Melbourne to implement the initiative at Mentone, Seaford North and Cheltenham East primary schools.

Who are Lana and David?

Director Lana Zgoznik

I love ballroom dancing and play musical instruments - the piano and the harp. I also deliver musical programs to aged care facilities in my business. I have always wanted to make a difference in the arts and when a request was offered for a voluntary position, I jumped at the opportunity. (if really questioned - you could say. An acquaintance of the philanthropists reached out to me to be involved.)

Director David Brent

In earlier years, my social life included ballroom dancing. I have always wanted to make a difference in the industry and so became involved by donating my time and business expertise when I saw what the Ballroom Dancing Foundation could achieve.