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
Charming docufilm with good messages for kids and teachers alike. See it with your 8-12 year olds or just watch it by yourself.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Uplifting and fun. Children learning through ballroom dance the lessons of respect for others and teamwork.Published 2 months ago by Katherine
I purchased this some years ago. A documentary about a bunch of NYC schoolkids learning ballroom dancing was not exactly my typical "gotta see" fare. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Ellie