3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Mad Hot Ballroom [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)There is a scene about one third of the way into this brilliant documentary about the more than sixty New York City elementary and middle schools that have organized programs and competitions for salsa, merengue and other ballroom dancing where a young female teacher can no longer hold back her emotions. She speaks directly into the camera while students talk amongst themselves in her classroom. She puts her best, most professional foot forward for the camera, to best express the importance of what she is doing in an honest but demure and educated fashion. But when she thinks about what she is witnessing, more than what she is doing for these children, her heart becomes full and overflows before our eyes. She knows what she has to say is the most important thing for people to get about what she is doing and the entire movie--and maybe her life's work--but she tries to say it without crying, until she realizes she cannot.
She finally loses her polite smile as her lips begin to tremble and says something to the effect of "I'm watching them become ladies and gentlemen..." and the tears begin rolling down her cheeks.
Not to mention mine.
If you ever find a movie that can make you believe in the redemptive power of art, the joyful majesty of dance, the culturally kaleidescopic beauty of New York City and the fact that "the children" really are "the future" simultaneously better or moreso than this film, please e-mail me and tell me the title so I can go and buy it. I had an apatrment in Manhattan about a twenty minute walk uptown from the first school showcased in this documentary MAD HOT BALLROOM, but I can tell you, a person in Des Moine or Chicago--or Beijing, for that matter--will be as deeply touched by this movie as any native New Yorker. Other reviewers have wisely revealed that part of the magic exists in the documentarists making you care about the lives of specific children involved in this. You really have to see the film to see how true that is. But that serves as the vehicle through which we are led to discover how incredible the dance competition is, and how important it is as a cultural phenomenon.
I walked away from this movie feeling this: if the Constitution were set to music, the music would be jazz. But the dance would be merengue!
It is impossible not to see this movie and feel good about life afterwards.