Watch as Pittsburgh fifth graders merengue, foxtrot and rumba their way to the gold

Nine teams practiced for ten weeks leading up to Saturday’s competition at Taylor Allderdice High School.

Pittsburgh fifth grade students dance the tango.

Pittsburgh fifth grade students dance the tango.

Jasmine Goldband / The Incline

Pittsburgh fifth graders from nine schools made ballroom dancing look easy Saturday as they competed in the semi-annual “Colors of the Rainbow” competition on the Taylor Allderdice High School stage.

Seven teams from Pittsburgh Public Schools and two Extra Mile schools from the Hill District and Wilkinsburg practiced the merengue, foxtrot, rumba, tango and swing for 10 weeks leading up to the competition.

Students learned the dances through playful phrases like “away she goes” and “starburst.” And they’re encouraged to “shake their pockets.”

Pittsburgh Westwood Pre-K-5 — Team Pink — took gold this time around, while the red reigning champions, Pittsburgh Banksville K-5, were runners-up.

Dancing Classrooms Pittsburgh touts teaching not only the “fundamentals of ballroom dance, but also valuable life lessons like team building, cooperation, self-confidence, problem solving, creative thinking, resiliency in the face of challenge, professional courtesy, and appreciation for other cultures.”

Pittsburgh Mercy’s Dancing Classrooms started in 2009, and Saturday marked its 25th event, said Linda Ross, spokeswoman at Pittsburgh Mercy. The American Ballroom Theater Company in New York City founded the larger not-for-profit project in 1994, according to its website.