Mad Hot Ballroom
|Mad Hot Ballroom|
Mad Hot Ballroom film poster
|Directed by||Marilyn Argrelo|
|Produced by||Marilyn Argrelo
Brian David Cange
Wilder Knight II
|Written by||Amy Sewell|
|Distributed by||Paramount Classics|
|Release date(s)||May 13, 2005|
|Running time||106 minutes|
Mad Hot Ballroom is a documentary film by director Marilyn Agrelo and writer/producer Amy Sewell about a ballroom dance program in the New York City public school system. The film was rated PG for "some thematic elements".
In the film, Agrelo and Sewell reveal that the New York City public school system runs a ballroom dance program for fifth graders. Several styles of dance are shown in the film, such as tango, foxtrot, swing, rumba and merengue.
The documentary premiered at the 2005 Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah and was purchased by Paramount Classics and Nickelodeon Movies. It had a limited theatrical release in the United States on May 13, 2005. Mad Hot Ballroom was the second highest grossing documentary in 2005 after March of the Penguins. As of February 7, 2012 it had earned over $8.1 million, making it the sixteenth-highest-grossing documentary film in the United States - (in nominal dollars, from 1982 to the present).
Based on a feature article written by Sewell, Mad Hot Ballroom looks inside the lives of eleven-year-old New York City public school kids who journey into the world of ballroom dancing and reveal pieces of themselves along the way. Told from the students' perspectives, the film highlights the cultural diversity that is the soul of New York City as the children strive toward the final citywide competition.
The film chronicles the experiences of students at three schools in the neighborhoods of Tribeca, Bensonhurst and Washington Heights. The students are united by a zeal for the ballroom dancing lessons, which builds over a 10-week period and culminates in a competition to find the school that has produced the best dancers in the city. As the teachers cajole their students to learn the intricacies of the various disciplines, Agrelo intersperses classroom footage with the students' musings on life; many of these reveal an underlying maturity. Gender and race boundaries disappear as focus on the competition consumes the students' energy, and the teachers are brought to tears as they see their prodigies turning into what one teacher touchingly terms "little ladies and gentlemen."
Mad Hot Ballroom celebrates the intricate lives of these students and reminds audiences of their own childhoods when anything was possible. Living with the complexities of big city life, these kids take on something unfamiliar and rise to the occasion. Filled with emotion and triumph, this documentary feature captures the essence of growing up in America.
The cast 
- P.S. 150 Tribeca dance team members are Emma Biegacki, Tara Devon Gallagher, Cyrus Hernstadt, Zeb Liburd, Richard R. Brown IV, Jao-Ke Chin Lee, Willie C. Gantt, Dominic Guglielmo, Quana Jones, Celia B. Ortiz, Zelaina Rodriguez and Nile Roc Terry.
Allison Sheniak is the classroom teacher; and Alex Tchassov, a Russian native, is the teaching artist from American Ballroom Theater, the organization that provides the instruction.
- P.S. 112 Bensonhurst dance team members are Michael Vaccaro, Jia Wen Zhu, Priscilla Kwong, Ariel Escoto, Sharese DeBiasi, Benjamin Feng, Mohammad Hussein, Nathalie Perez, Bleron Samarxhiu, David Wong, Jean Xiaoyi, Sherry Zeng.
Victoria Malvagno is the ABrT Teaching Artist.
- P.S. 115 Washington Heights dance team members are Wilson Castillo, Jatnna Toribio, Elsamelys Ulerio, Kelvin Acevedo, Joshua Duran, Jeffrey Espinal, Kevin Heredia, Kelvin Muñoz, Angie Toribio, Michell Rodriguez, and Karina Sanchez.
Yomaira Reynoso is the classroom teacher and Rodney Lopez is the ABrT teaching artist.
American Ballroom Theater Dancing Classrooms 
New York City-based American Ballroom Theater's (ABrT) Dancing Classrooms is a nonprofit organization that has provided instruction in American-style ballroom dance to over 60 public schools in New York City. The program was introduced in two schools in 1995. In 10 weeks (20 one-hour sessions), the kids absorb a repertoire that includes the merengue, foxtrot, rumba, tango, swing and several line dances.
The schools are then given the choice to compete. These competitions (quarterfinals, semifinals and final) are called Rainbow Team Matches. About 48 schools choose to compete and only nine (one representative from each borough) make it to the final competition. Each dance team is made up of five couples, one for each of the five dances, and one alternate couple who must know how to do every dance well in case a couple is absent.
Awards bestowed upon Mad Hot Ballroom include:
- The Christopher Award in 2006
- Best Documentary at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in 2005
- The Audience Award at the Philadelphia Film Festival
- Satellite Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2005
See also 
- Official website
- americanballroomtheater.com - Dancing Classrooms
- Mad Hot Ballroom at the Internet Movie Database
- Mad Hot Ballroom on Box Office Mojo