Welcome to The Founders archives of Dance Crazy, Inc. Ms. Robbiano hopes that you enjoy your journey through the vast amount of historical pictures, events, news reports and videos found on this site.
Crazy is a 501c3 Charity founded in 2005 by Susan Robbiano in Burnt Hills, NY.
In July 2005 it all began when Ms. Robbiano went to see the movie Mad Hot Ballroom with her friend, Dr. Barry Maisel. Tearing up when seeing the transformation of the dancing children, Ms. Robbiano leaned over in her seat and whispered to her friend, "Barry, we can do this, I know we can!" The rest is history.
The first steps involved spending the summer of 2005 trying to convince the local ballroom dance community that it was possible to form a charity that serves children and teaches them to ballroom dance. At the end of July there was a local Schenectady School (Zollar Elementary) interested in starting a ballroom dance program. That school contacted a local ballroom dancer for guidance. That dancer knew Ms. Robbiano was trying to start up a ballroom program for children in schools and contacted Sue to see if she could help get this program going. A small group of local dancers met on August 8, 2005 to discuss possibilities. By the end of September 2005, Zollar decided that that school was not interested in being part of Ms. Robbiano's attempts to start a large organization involving many schools, and instead wanted a small program in their school. Zollar withdrew from further attempts to begin what is now Dance Crazy, while Ms. Robbiano moved forward organizing the initial group of ballroom dancers that volunteered to start fundraising and visiting local schools to teach. By November 2, 2005, the volunteers were working at a rapid pace (see November 2, 2005 minutes) to get the program up and running by January 2006. Ballroom dance fever amongst local youth was about to take off in the Capital District. Until this time, ballroom dancing for children was almost unheard of in this area.
It took alot of convincing to get local elementary schools to participate in the program at first. After all, why would a school want to be seen as doing something so...different? Right?
The first school to participate was Rensselaer Middle School, thanks to Dr. Linda Rozell-Shannon, the President of Vascular Birthmarks Foundation. Linda contacted the Principal of her alma mater and introduced the brand new program, Dance Crazy. Ms. Karen Urbanski, the schools Principal, opened her arms to the idea of bringing such an opportunity to her children. Soon after this, Ichabod Crane schools joined in as a result of Mr. Christopher Soulia's strong interest in the program. Mr. Soulia, a ballroom dancer and school teacher at Ichabod Crane, offered to teach the program at his school.
Of course there was no program until the right Artistic Director was found. Fortunately, the owner of Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Latham, Ms. Jennifer Girard, volunteered to write a syllabus for Dance Crazy to use in all of the schools. Jennifer generously offered to be Dance Crazy's Artistic Director. That first year, Jennifer taught the children without any compensation other than the immense gratification she received from watching their transformation into well-behaved, confident and poised young individuals. Throughout the first five years, Jennifer gave of her time and talent with endless hours of volunteer teaching to school staff, school children, and ballroom dance volunteers. About 90% of the funding for the entire Dance Crazy program each year resulted from Jennifer's tireless efforts at organizing and sponsoring our fundraiser Dancing With the Albany Stars (see pics).
Sue designed a ballroom dance program that is similar to Dancing Classrooms, the program depicted in the movie Mad Hot Ballroom. The Dance Crazy program was modified in order to fit with the resources available in the Capital District area of upstate NY. During the first year of the program, Sue and Jennifer worked closely together to enhance what worked and to modify what needed changing.
Here's a glimpse of the beginning, caught on film by the Channel 13 TV news crew on January 10, 2008:
To bring ballroom dancing into the schools and provide children with a resource that will increase physical activity, self-esteem, and confidence. Social skills associated with partner dancing will help children develop a consideration and respect for others that will have lifelong benefits.
In 2009, Ms. Robbiano suggested the time had finally arrived to change the mission statement to reflect community recognition and support of not only ballroom dancing for children, but competitive ballroom dancing for children. As a result, the Mission Statement was changed to:
To bring the sport of ballroom dancing into the schools and provide children with a resource that will increase physical activity, self-esteem and confidence. The social nature of the sport will help children develop a consideration and respect for others, while the competitive nature of the sport will teach good sportsmanship, teamwork, school pride and goal setting that will have lifelong benefits.