Mad Hot Ballroom

Rated 3.0

Documentary producers Marilyn Agrelo and Amy Sewell follow fifth-grade students from three New York City public schools as they prepare for and compete in a citywide ballroom-dance competition sponsored by the American Ballroom Institute. Agrelo is credited as director, and Sewell as writer (though exactly what she wrote is a mystery). The film has little suspense—it’s not always easy to keep the three separate classes straight, and the workings of the competition remain almost as murky as Claudia Raschke’s high-definition videography. What saves things, and makes the movie a delight, are the kids themselves. The dozen or so whom Agrelo and Sewell chose to emphasize are especially appealing, but nearly all of them are bright, thoughtful, confident and dedicated—a heartening glimpse of the coming generation.