This weekend, I finally watched Mad Hot Ballroom. Released in May of 2005, it was one of many on my shamefully-long list of "movies I've been meaning to see." It is a documentary following New York City fifth-graders as they learn ballroom dancing, and prepare for a city-wide competition. I couldn't find a video to embed, watch the trailer here.
Ballroom was funny, sweet, and inspiring. Lil Bear watched it with me, and we both enjoyed it. The kids' perspectives are the best. They discuss everything from who they like best to dance with, to not wanting to be like the drug dealers they see in their neighborhood. They were infinitely more street smart than this suburbanite was in fifth grade!
Through learning dance steps and accompanying etiquette, the students learned much more. Many of the teachers reported positive changes in the behavior of "problem" kids, along with an increased sense of self-confidence.
Mad Hot Ballroom was a touching reinforcement of what I've always felt: the arts should be made accessible to everyone- young and old, urban and rural, rich and poor, black, white, brown, yellow... The fine arts exist as a means of expression, and edification, for ALL people. Two thumbs up!