Dancing is the art of life  

 To learn more about Dancing Classrooms click here.

Endorsed by:

About Us

Mission Statement

To promote lifelong physical, mental and emotional well-being, as well as enhance academic experience, social awareness and relationship building skills, in young people, through the transformative power of ballroom and partner dancing.  To dedicate ourselves to excellence in service and support to the children of Canada in order to encourage and inspire them to celebrate their individuality, believe in their dreams and reach for the stars, together!   


Our vision is to enable all children to have the opportunity to build critical self-esteem and confidence through proactive character education. We believe that Dancing Classrooms will enhance their ability to achieve and succeed now; and hopefully throughout their future adult lives.

Our Organization

Join the Dance (Canada
) is a registered Federal Charity first established in February 2006 to deliver innovative character development programs through the medium of dance to children and youth. Join the Dance is the first official representative in Canada for Pierre Dulaine’s internationally acclaimed Dancing Classrooms that was introduced by way of a pilot initiative to our Public and Catholic school systems in Ontario in March 2007.  Since then, through the on-going collaboration and endorsement of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB), and more recently that of the Dufferin Peel Catholic School Board, our organization has been privileged to provide the extra-ordinary and proven benefits of Dancing Classrooms to over 6,000 students of the Elementary and Middle School system.

In Academic Year 2009/10, we anticipate serving close to 5,000 elementary and junior high students in approximately 70 schools across the Greater Toronto and Brampton Peel areas.

Ilsa Abraham – Principal & Co-Founder

Ilsa Abraham is a principal and co-founder of Join The Dance (Canada) (JTD), created in March 2006. JTD is a private, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to shape character development in Canadian youth through innovative Arts in Education programs. 

Ilsa has over 30 years’ experience in business, recruitment, education and training, employment counseling, and in specialized job development for job seekers with disabilities. Ilsa has highly specialized knowledge in equal opportunity and diversity, with particular emphasis on helping persons with disabilities achieve their maximum potential in Canadian society and globally.

Her involvement in working with students and young adults over the years has allowed her to gain invaluable sensitivity and awareness of the self-esteem and confidence issues and concerns, as well as lack of equal access that can impact adversely upon their chances of success.  This understanding has enhanced her capacity to work positively with these critical age groups; and, to increase her commitment to helping educators, service providers, and community leaders to provide greater equal opportunity through more innovative programs and services, in school as well as in the community.

She is an avid dancer with a particular love for ballroom and Latin dance.  She has had some formal training in Ballet and Afro-Caribbean Dance; and has been taking Latin Dance with Betty Colon’s salsa school for close to three years. She is also an instructor’s aide to Betty at the school.

In her professional capacity as a Disability & Diversity Employment Consultant, Ilsa spent the past nine years supporting the Community Head Injury Resource Services (CHIRS) in its efforts to develop and implement highly specialized employment supports and services to individuals with acquired brain injury. Her unique skills and abilities beyond traditional job development and placement lent to unprecedented success for CHIRS and its clients, and to CHIRS becoming an approved Service Delivery Provider for the Ontario Disability Supports Employment Program to individuals with acquired brain injury.  Ilsa also served as CHIRS active representative with the Toronto Board of Trade/Scarborough and North York Chambers of Commerce; and, on the Scarborough Chamber’s Business Excellence Awards committee.

Over the past 15 years she has served on many advisory committees addressing equal opportunities for the disadvantaged, including the Ontario Training & Adjustment Board (OTAB) and the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation & Work. She has become well known in the Greater Toronto Area to both private and public employers – including leading Fortune 500 companies and the major banks – and to government funding agencies, educating & training institutions, and community service providers that offer programs for her target groups.

Ilsa is a highly committed community advocate with an unswerving passion to help others who are striving to achieve their goals.  Join The Dance (Canada) is founded on this passion. 

Bob Rutherford – Co-Founder

Bob co-founded Join The Dance (Canada) in 2006 with Ilsa Abraham.

He has a degree in physical education from McMaster University. Bob went on to attend the College of Education in Toronto, following which he began his teaching career in Blackpool, England.

Bob subsequently returned to Canada and taught for many years in Scarborough. He went on to teach with the Durham District School Board and ended his career as a Vice-Principal in Whitby, Ontario. Having spent over 30 years in education, he has taught at most grade levels and has a particular interest in developing character building programs for young people. With this in mind, he worked with the Community School Association in Whitby to help make local schools available after hours for organized youth activities.

During the time he lived in the Durham region, he was involved with many sports teams in the community and was the Whitby coordinator for the Multiple Sclerosis Society Carnation Day fundraising event for several years.

Bob is now retired and works part time as a consultant. In his spare time he has taken ballroom and Latin dancing lessons. Based on his educational experiences, he strongly believes in the enormous potential of ballroom dancing as an excellent method for teaching young people social skills and building their self-esteem.

Dance Artists

Julian Jurkiewicz – Senior Dance Instructor
Jessica Barrera
Christopher Sawchyn
Kari Drue Abraham
Robert Glean
Siham Chowdhury
Julia Gallagher
Pavlo Farmakidis
Megan Fehlberg
Cathy Murphy
Phil Luzi

Pierre Dulaine – Founder of Dancing Classrooms (USA)

Speaker PhotoPierre Dulaine was born in Jaffa, Palestine in 1944. His Irish father was serving with the British Army stationed in Palestine; his mother is part Palestinian and part French. In 1948 his parents had to flee the troubles leaving their home behind for the creation of the state of Israel. After 8 months of wondering around first in Cyprus, then in England and Ireland, Pierre’s family settled in Amman, Jordan. Growing up in Amman, Pierre learned to speak French at school, Arabic on the street and English at home. In 1956, because of the problems in Egypt and the Suez Canal, Pierre’s parents had to flee yet again, leaving everything behind.  With a stop in Beirut the family resettled in Birmingham, England, where one year later at age 14, Pierre began his dancing career.

By the time Pierre was 18 he took his Associate Degree as a professional dancer.  And at 21, he took his three majors exams in Ballroom, Latin and Olde Tyme all in one day, a feat that had not been accomplished before.  Not only did Pierre pass the exams, but he passed with Highly Commended and became a full member of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing.

With this early success under his belt, Pierre soon went on to twice win the "Duel of the Giants" at the Royal Albert Hall in London and captured the "All England Professional Latin American Championship”.   In 1971 Pierre worked as a solo dancer at the famous Talk of the Town in London's West End, as well as at a late, late Night Club called L’Hirondelle where he made friends with many interesting ‘artistes’. Pierre next went to Nairobi, Kenya and worked in Cabaret with the world renowned Bluebell Troupe from Paris at the Nairobi Casino for a year. Finally, Pierre signed on as a cruise director on a ship sailing out of New York City to the Caribbean Islands.  In 1972, “I got off of the cruise ship thinking I would be in New York City for a two-week holiday but I got a job at an Arthur Murray dance studio and I have been in New York ever since.”

New York:
In 1973, with a background in ballet, Yvonne Marceau came into Arthur Murray’s for a teacher's job and in January 1976 Pierre and Yvonne became dance partners. They went to England to study for three months with John DelRoy and emerged as a dance team that won numerous awards and accolades, including the 1977, ’78, ’79 and '82 British Exhibition Championships, Dance Magazine’s award for excellence, the National Dance Council of America award, the Dance Educators of America Award, and the Americans for the Arts “Arts in Education” 2005 award.   

In 1984, Pierre and Yvonne stopped dancing as a team and started the American Ballroom Theater Company. They made their company debut at the Dance Theatre Workshop in October 1984 and in March 1986 did a two-week engagement at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.  After that start, their company traveled all over the US, Europe and the Far East. In July 1989 Pierre and Yvonne joined
the workshop for Tommy Tune's Broadway show Grand Hotel and danced on Broadway for 2 ½ years, finishing with a five month run in London’s West End. 

Pierre has been called a “Dancer and Teacher extraordinaire" by the New York Times and (with Yvonne) has received the Astaire Award for "Best Dancing on Broadway" in Grand Hotel.  He has been a faculty member of both the School of American Ballet and the Juilliard School in 1992.  

Dancing Classrooms:
In 1994 Pierre volunteered to teach a dance class at the Professional Performing Arts School on West 48th Street in Manhattan.  From this beginning, Pierre developed Dancing Classrooms™, a 10 week – 20 session social development program for 5th grade children that utilizes ballroom dancing as a vehicle to change the lives of not only the children who participate in the program but also the lives of the teachers and parents who support these children.   

In 2005 Mad Hot Ballroom, an award-winning documentary capturing the Dancing Classrooms™ journey from classroom experience to the culminating Colors of the Rainbow Team Match was released. 

Take the Lead (with Antonio Banderas) was released in 2006 and depicted Pierre Dulaine’s efforts to utilize ballroom dancing to help NYC youth regain a sense of self-respect, pride, and elegance.  Both of these movies greatly accelerated national, and international, interest in Dancing Classrooms™.

In 2006, ABrT began developing Dancing Classrooms™ sites throughout the US and Canada.  During the 2007-2008 school year Dancing Classrooms™ is projected to serve more than 31,000 children in New York city, Newark, Omaha, Fort Worth/Dallas, Toronto, Philadelphia, Suffolk county, New York and Fort Myers, Florida.


Join The Dance (Canada), All rights reserved. © 2008