Monday, May 30, 2005

Mad Hot Ballroom

This is one of those films that very quickly connects with the audience, and before you know it everyone is laughing, holding their collective breath, and bursting into applause at the moment of victory for - well, I won't tell you who, because that would ruin the suspense. "Mad Hot Ballroom" can only be described as "Spellbound" for dance competitions - and I know this because every single reviewer I checked out made that comparison. Well, yeah - documentary, kids from diverse backgrounds, competition, humor, compassion, championship, winner. Check, check, check, all there. It's a different kind of film, though, because it's solely about NYC school kids, albeit from 3 very different (economically and racially) areas: Washington Heights (poor, mostly Dominican), Tribeca (rich, mostly white), and Bensonhurst (middle class, half traditional Italian and - who knew? - half from the Asian population that has grown to dominate the neighborhood over the past five years, according to the film's website.) As much as the movie tells us about these fifth graders learning to ball room dance, it also gives glimpses into the thoughts and dreams of a pretty vocal group of pre-teens. Some of them are just amazing. And some of them can really dance!

It made me want to go home and put on a record and dance the merengue.


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