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Mad Hot Ballroom
IMDB Rating: 7.5/10 from 3,123 votes
Release: 28 October 2006 (Netherlands) /

Mad Hot Ballroom

Genre: Documentary, Family, Music, Musical
Director: Marilyn Agrelo,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Eleven-year-old New York City public school kids journey into the world of ballroom dancing and reveal pieces of themselves and their world along the way. Told from their candid, sometimes hilarious perspectives, these kids are transformed, from reluctant participants to determined competitors, from typical urban kids to "ladies and gentlemen," on their way to try to compete in the final citywide competition. Providing unique insight into the incredible cultural diversity that is New York City, this film profiles several kids from three schools (out of 60) at this dynamic age, when becoming that "cool" teenager vies for position with familiar innocence, while they learn the merengue, rumba, tango, the foxtrot and swing. Written by Anonymous

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Critic Reviews


This sunny documentary on a rainy and gloomy afternoon was the perfect movie to watch. "Mad Hot Ballroom" directed by Marilyn Agrelo, who is working with her collaborator, Amy Sewell, will put anyone into a good mood because it's a disarming view at inner city children who have benefited a lot from this experience.

What comes across in the documentary is the tenacity in which the teachers keep these children involved as they are exposed to another world many of them don't even know exists. The teachers one sees in the film are clearly people that ought to be commended for motivating children that otherwise would probably be in the streets hanging out and getting in trouble.

Yomaira Reynoso and Allison Sheniak are seen openly crying when describing what they are trying to give these youngsters. It shows their devotion to the children that comes from their hearts. It's a rare thing to find men and women whose lives are given to the cause of shaping these youngsters under their care. The other teachers also have to be singled out for their dedication, especially Rodney Lopez and Alex Tchassov.

Three public schools are shown preparing for the competition, but only three are singled out, one in Tribeca, one in Brooklyn and one in Washington Heights. The children featured in the different segments are caught being themselves. There seems to be an air of improvisation in the way Ms. Agrelo points the camera to whatever is going on. The kids come out so natural in being themselves, no small achievement for this, or any other director.

It is to Ms. Reynoso's credit to dress all the six couples of her team in such a colorful, yet modest, way they have a dignified and professional look. These children of Washington Heights are poor, but they clearly show they are there to win, despite of competing with other, more affluent, schools. In a way, Ms. Reynoso has achieved in showing by her example how to be a better person.

The dancing in all the different categories at the finals show all teams in great form. Some of the dancers show a grace and a joy for whatever they are dancing at the moment. This is reflected in some of the judges, especially Ann Reinking, who seems happily surprised by some of the kids on stage.

The reaction of the audience at the session we attended couldn't have been more positive. The energy of the music and the dancing make a perfect combination. Ms. Agrelo is to be congratulated for capturing these New York school kids that show an amazing group of young and talented people that are a delight to watch.

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