Mad Hot Ballroom
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this documentary tracks students from three NYC public schools as they prepare for an annual citywide ballroom dancing competition. Parents need to know that some of the 11- and 12-year-old interviewees discuss the difficulties in their lives and neighborhoods, including absent parents, drug dealers, and street violence. That said, the children handle these subjects with poise and remarkable self-awareness.
What's the story?
MAD HOT BALLROOM follows participants in American Ballroom Theater's (ABrT) Dancing Classrooms at three public schools in New York City: Tribeca's P.S. 150, Washington Heights' P.S. 115, and Bensonhurst, Brooklyn's P.S. 112.
Is it any good?
At first, it might seem strange to see such young people working so seriously on ballroom dancing. But within minutes, Marilyn Agrelo's documentary convinces viewers that this is exactly the right activity for these dedicated, enchanting fifth graders. As they work with their teachers and each other to learn the difficult steps and postures for the rumba, tango, swing, merengue, and fox trot, they also reveal much about themselves, as thoughtful, dynamic young people. As they dance, they are exposed to various cultural traditions, and begin to learn traditional gender roles (the boys are instructed, "Take care of your partner").
More than anything else, the movie impresses by the respect it affords its subjects. Whether the dancers perform for the camera (which some of them certainly do), explain their interest (Michael Vaccaro says, "It's like a sport that hasn't been invented yet!"), confess concerns (philosophically inclined Cyrus Hernstadt says, "Dance is like a tiny grain of sand if you consider the entire country"), or express themselves in complicated dance moves (the swing dancers are moving fast), they all give of themselves, for the enthusiastic adults they want to please (teachers like Yomaira Reynoso and Victoria Malvagno, as well as parents), and especially, each other.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the overwhelmingly positive effects of such structured dancing for both students and their teachers. They work hard, dedicate time and energy, and support each other, forming strong networks within their school teams and coming to understand what it means to win, and maybe more importantly, to lose. How do you cope with losing even when you try your best? What is the value of working together toward a common goal? What are the best ways to help teammates or partners to feel confident or learn new skills (whether dance steps, athletic activities, or school work)? How does losing teach you to be strong? And how might winning help you become more generous and sympathetic with other competitors?
|Theatrical release date:||May 13, 2005|
|DVD release date:||October 18, 2005|
|Cast:||Emma Biegacki, Michael Vaccaro, Yomaira Reynoso|
|Topics:||Arts and dance, Great boy role models, Great girl role models|
|Run time:||105 minutes|
|MPAA explanation:||some thematic elements|