Mad Hot Ballroom

Rated PG 110 minutes 2005

Director Marilyn Agrelo brings us dozens of delightful 10-year-olds in this wildly enjoyable look at the fifth-grade ballroom dance competition held annually in New York City. By focusing on three schools and their quests for the top prize, Agrelo paints a warm-hearted, hilarious picture of the city's riches: its ethnic diversity, its fervent support of the arts, and, beautifully, its investment in children. Like 2003's spelling-bee documentary Spellbound, Ballroom revolves around the drama of the quest, the struggle of preparation, and the long list of lessons learned, especially around defeat. But here, the discipline is far saner; nobody can argue about whether dance is beneficial. And in dance, some of the kids who hail from poor immigrant families just might have an edge. One look at the swiveling pelvises of the Dominicans, and you know these kids are on home turf. The film could work a little harder to question the sexist conventions of ballroom dancing, but it's very good on the topic of competition, and whether or not it benefits kids.

Film Credits

Official Site:

Director: Marilyn Agrelo

Writer: Amy Sewell

Producer: Marilyn Agrelo and Amy Sewell


Mad Hot Ballroom

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