Saturday, April 23, 2005

Mad Hot Ballroom

I had the privilege of attending a film screening that melds two of my interests, film and ballroom dancing. The documentary Mad Hot Ballroom chronicles a ballroom dance program in NY public schools. The dancers are 10-12 years old, and the program culminates in a city-wide competition (Ann Reinking was one of the judges). The film delves into the heart and motivation of this program, which is to better the self esteem, poise and social skills of these young people through ballroom dancing. Watching these young people learn to merengue, swing, rumba, fox trot and tango is amazing. They progress from awkward (ewww touching), to graceful and confident. Stories of the dancer's progress in behavior and academics is interwoven nicely. The insight to the psyche of adolescence was also fascinating. The kids explain what it's like to be 10, 11 years old and share their dreams, thoughts on family and the opposite sex. One of the boys goes as far as saying that dance is "like a sport that nobody knows is a sport".

I also had the pleasure of attending an event with the filmmakers and several of the cast members, and found them charming and fun in person. The kids are wonderful dancers, and one of the teachers, Rodney Lopez, even gave me a twirl on the dance floor!!

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