Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mad Hot Ballroom

This past weekend I watched one of my very favorite movies – Mad Hot Ballroom – for the millionth time.

Mad Hot Ballroom is a 2005 documentary about a ballroom dance program for 5th graders at New York City public schools. It follows the students and teachers at 3 very different schools – P.S. 112 in Brooklyn (the “working class” kids), P.S. 150 in Tribeca (the “privileged” kids), and P.S. 115 in Washington Heights (the "poor, Dominican" kids). The movie follows the different schools as their dance teams make their way through the competition, and eventually to the finals.

What makes this movie so uplifting, to me anyway, is the passion that the teachers show for these kids. Teacher Allison Sheniak (Tribeca) wears her heart on her sleeve, and breaks down in tears when discussing her students. Rodney Lopez (Washington Heights), tries to give the boys a positive male role-model – something that a lot of these kids probably don’t have. But Yomaira Reynoso (Washington Heights) is my absolute favorite, she wants her kids to win that grand prize trophy SO BADLY, but she refuses to put up with nonsense when the kids try to act up. “Everything you are doing is UGLY!”, she exclaims (in Spanish) at one point to a boy who is not taking the dancing seriously. She even takes the girls shopping for matching dance outfits before the final competition.

Furthermore, the kids are about the most adorable bunch you can imagine – in all three schools. It was as if director Marilyn Agrelo cast the perfect little actors, as opposed to real New York City school children.

At the end of the tense final competition, the little Papis and Mamis from Washington Heights kick ass and win the trophy. After all, who is going to beat them at the merengue?

The Brooklyn Kids

The Washington Heights Kids

The Tribeca Kids

Teachers Rodney Lopez and Yomaira Reynoso with some of the students.

Wilson and Jatnna, members of the winning P.S. 115 dance team - and all-around most adorable dance partners.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would love to know how these kids are doing now especially wilson!

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