Mad Hot Ballroom (2005)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBBB.

USA, 2005.  Just One Productions.  Screenplay by .   Cinematography by .   Produced by Marilyn Agrelo, ,Amy Sewell.   Music by , .  Film Editing by .  

Since 1994, Brooklyn and Manhattan public schools have been running a ten-week ballroom dance program for grade-schoolers that ends in a citywide competition. In this fascinating, heartfelt documentary, director Marilyn Agrelo gives us a quick glimpse into the moments of preparation and personal struggle through to the final outcome of this journey, and the result is movie magic. These kids are natural screen subjects, and as it turns out there are some pretty impressive dancers among the lot as well  (of course, the ones who aren’t too good are just as entertaining). The only downside is that Agrelo tries to cover so much ground (all the dancers from three different schools and their ten weeks of rehearsal, plus their personal lives outside the dance studio) that she spends too little time on everything, skimming over all the colourful personalities and practices before getting to the final match (judged by no less!)  This doesn’t lessen the enjoyment of the movie, as it is a peppy and brisk documentary, but the overall impact isn’t as resonant as Spellbound or Small Wonders. Still, its box office hit status is deserved and it will be enjoyed by anyone who watches it.


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