Mad Hot Ballroom
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"Mad Hot Ballroom" is a wonderful documentary about this creative and inspiring program. Director Marilyn Agrelo follows a bunch of kids and their teachers as they prepare for the big competition. There are also colorful vignettes of everyday life in the children's neighborhoods, which range from Bensonhurst in Brooklyn to Washington Heights in Manhattan. In addition, Agrelo captures the students chatting among themselves in their homes, at school, or outside playing; their candid comments are poignant, hilarious, and sometimes heartbreaking.
A documentary like this works for the same reason that "Spellbound," the documentary about spelling bee competitors, worked so well. The filmmakers personalize their subjects. For instance, Yomaira, a passionate dance instructor, pushes her students hard and demands excellence from them. She hopes that the lessons her kids learn in dance class will carry over into their personal lives. Alex is a Russian-born teacher whose elegance and soft-spoken manner is very different from Yomaira's style. He uses honey rather than vinegar. Tara is an intense child who practices in front of a mirror and buys a special dress for the competition; she has her heart set on winning. A precocious little girl named Emma speaks about life with world-weary wisdom.Read more ›
The filmmakers, likes Spellbound's, follow a "one from Column A, one from Column B" formula for choosing dance teams to follow. At the first round, there is an upscale school in Tribeca, a melting-pot group of Brooklynites, and an energetic and wholly Dominican team from upper Manhattan's Washington Heights. The kids from all schools are engaging and winsome, although the filmmakers indulge in a little stereotyping via editing (a wealthy Tribeca girl is very confident before the competition (in a sweet way) but the Tribeca team cries and complains afterwards, whereas the down-to-earth Brooklynites look endearingly dorky and take their loss with a them's-the-break attitude).
The film's real energy, however, comes directly from the Dominican team, whose authentically wonderful and instinctive dancing allows us to combine the drama of kids competing with the reward of watching some mad hot dancing.
It's not a kid's movie, however; it's pretty long. Actual fifth-grade boys will recoil at the idea of watching a movie that involves dancing with real girls.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If every school in the USA had an after school program like the one featured in this movie it would make a difference and perhaps along with a gun control program the violence rate... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Paula
Really fun documentary. It draws you in and you end up rooting for the kids in the compatition.Published 4 months ago by Joyce C. Finn
I am a middle school English teacher. I enjoy exposing my students to other cultures. The students love this movie, and they want to learn the dances in this moviePublished 5 months ago by Butch
This movie should be required watching for everyone who has anything to do with arts funding for public schools. It's funny, touching, moving. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Sharon Bryan
Awesome movie!!! A film that all Liberal Arts students and aspiring teachers should watch.Published 6 months ago by Chorrie
Loved it! And watched it a second time while I could!
Really enjoy seeing how dance can be used to teach kids to focus, to build their self esteem, to teach them how to be... Read more