February 1, 2012 § Leave a comment
When I was walking around Carytown in downtown Richmond, VA, with my mom and sister the summer of 2005, I didn’t expect to walk into the historic Byrd Theatre and see the most endearing documentary I have ever watched. Our family always had a tradition of going to see a movie early in the afternoon before a swim meet, but we had never gone to the Byrd before. Upon hearing the film’s title, none of us knew it would be a documentary or about elementary school children in New York. We were all dancers once and thought it would be a fun girl’s day out to go see a movie about ballroom dancing.
As soon as the film started, we were thrown into a world of schoolchildren in New York City who participate in a ballroom dancing program in an effort to steer them in a good life direction. I love working with young children and watching the kids interact with each other was charming and humorous at the same time. They all had the chance to be interviewed by the filmmakers and some of the things they say are beyond hilarious coming from a fifth grader. You get an insight into three different groups of kids from different schools who start to fully embrace the program after some coercing. What makes the documentary so wonderful to watch are the innocent and very real interactions the kids have with one another. You witness their successes and their failures and the effect that participating in this program has on their confidence levels.
Mad Hot Ballroom takes you into the realm of children and makes you see the world from their point of view. They are the narrators and main characters. Their feelings are brought to the forefront and you laugh with them and cry with them. Their innocence shines to the forefront and nothing is more touching than watching one of the kids go through this overwhelming process and find self confidence and pride through what they have accomplished in the end.