Mad Hot Ballroom dances into the Bradley Center
Following in the dance steps of New York City public schools, Danceworks, with three local schools -- Golda Meir, Elm and Vieau -- implemented the Mad Hot Ballroom Milwaukee pilot program at the end of 2006. Students involved were learning the moves to burn up the dance floor and join the ballroom dance craze.
With 22 private and public schools now on the bill, Mad Hot Ballroom Milwaukee is in full swing and this weekend, Danceworks will showcase 4th through 6th grade students in the first annual citywide Danceworks Mad Hot Ballroom and Tap Competition.
Farris says that four couples were chosen from each of the 22 schools and there will be eight students in the tap competition. There will also be musical breaks with performances by the Grammy nominated Cuban band Tiempo Libre.
"They agreed to fly themselves here to play," says Deborah Farris, Danceworks executive director. "They teach kids in the audience how to do different Latin dances and it's an open dance for everyone in the audience."
Those couples participating in the competition will perform the tango, the rumba and the salsa.
"There's a good diversity -- one is more dramatic, one is more passionate and one is full of light and fun," Farris says. "It shows different characteristics of the dance and draws out a different energy in the kids as they dance. These three gave the most varying degrees of style and quality.
"The goal (of Mad Hot Ballroom) is to bring all youth together," Farris says. "We want to make the program open to any school with little or no arts programming."
Danceworks is currently in talks with Waukesha and Elmbrook schools to bring Mad Hot Ballroom to their area, although Farris says nothing is decided.
"I think that it would just be grand to have the opportunity to have suburb kids come into the city and have all the kids together. I don't think we have a lot of events like -- that bringing all the community together."
She says the effect that Mad Hot Ballroom has had on the kids involved is astounding and so rewarding.
"One principal was just amazed by program. There was a student who threatened her early in the year. He was frustrated with school and he threatened her safety. She said after this program the student has completely changed. His grades are improving and he's completely turned around," Farris says. "I can't tell you what that means. That's one specific person that I pick out. It's the impact of the program opportunity for the kids to engage in school in new way where they get closer to students and respond in a new way with respect."
The competition Saturday gives the community at large to see what has been done in these schools and how the kids are responding.
"It's really a joyous event and we're an opportunity to see our students in an event where they are proud of their accomplishments," Farris says. "Support our kids who want to create better futures for themselves do better in school and to continue to want to go back to school."
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