ESTERO, FL  – Students from seven elementary schools in Lee County competed in the fourth annual Colors of the Rainbow ballroom dance competition at Miromar Design Center on Saturday, April 2, 2011. The event is the county-wide finale for Dancing Classrooms, a national and international program, sponsored by Miromar Outlets and administered locally by The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools.

The Colors of the Rainbow team match included several rounds of competition where selected students were judged on various ballroom dance routines. Teams were judged by three celebrity judges: Sharon Harrington, Supervisor of Elections, Judge Kathy Sturgis and Judge Huge E. Starnes. Each team was dressed in their own unique stylish outfits and color, with the young ladies wearing dresses with colored sashes and the gentlemen wearing shirts and ties with colored cards pinned to their backs.

Rodney Lopez, star of the award winning documentary Mad Hot Ballroom, was the Master of Ceremonies for the event.  Lehigh Elementary took home the Gold Medal, Bonita Springs Elementary, Edgewood Academy, and J. Colin English took home Silver Medals, and Colonial Elementary, Spring Creek Elementary, and Tice Elementary were each awarded the Bronze.

The “Dancing Classrooms” program is underwritten by Miromar Outlets and presented in partnership with The Foundation for Lee Public Schools.  The 10-week, 20-lesson program is a social development program for fifth grade children, utilizing ballroom dancing as a vehicle to build social awareness, confidence and self-esteem through the practice of ballroom dancing.

The inspiration for the program is based on an award-winning documentary called Mad Hot Ballroom. This movie captures the journey taken by a group of fifth graders from neighborhoods in New York City as they develop social skills through learning ballroom dancing, a program developed by founder Pierre Dulaine.

Margaret Antonier, President and CEO of Miromar Development Corporation brought the program to Lee County in 2008, after watching Mad Hot Ballroom.

“I was so inspired by the transformation of the children into young ladies and gentleman that I wanted to bring the opportunity to Southwest Florida,” said Antonier. “Marshall Bower at the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools embraced the idea and in the past four years more than 1,500 students have participated in this wonderful program!”

The Dancing Classrooms program in the Lee County Public Schools was the first in the state of Florida and Miromar Outlets was the first private business to provide the program to local public schools.  Nationally and internationally the Dancing Classrooms program reaches more than 50-thousand students each year.

Miromar Outlets is a project of Miromar Development Corporation, a multi-faceted real estate development company with a portfolio of residential and commercial properties including the nearby Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club, voted #1 Community in the United States and Miromar Design Center.  http://www.miromar.com/