Local schoolkids get a leg up in “Mad Hot Ballroom” on Saturday

Although my child hasn’t participated in “Mad Hot Ballroom,” his school takes part and from what I’ve heard in the hallways and PTO meetings, the kids and their parents love the event.

And I can see why. “Mad Hot” gets kids excited, gives them a change in routine for a while, gets them exercise, gives them a goal to work toward, teaches them to dance and shows them the value of practice and hard work. All those lessons can help them get a leg up in other subjects, too.

“Mad Hot Ballroom and Tap Competition,” an annual scholastic dance contest organized by Danceworks, takes place Saturday, May 15 at the Bradley Center.

More than 2,000 kids from 42 area schools compete in the fourth annual event, which kicks off at 9 a.m. and is free and open to the public.

The Milwaukee event is a take-off on the successful New York City schools program that was featured in the popular documentary film, “Mad Hot Ballroom.”

Danceworks sends instructors to the schools for 12 weeks to help the kids learn and prepare the steps.  And in an era when public schools are saddled with sagging budgets and arts education is wanting, these classes bring excitement and skills to local kids.

 ”Arts education — as well as physical education classes — are being eliminated in schools at an alarming rate,” said Danceworks Executive Director Deborah Farris. “We recognize how powerful the creative arts experience can be, and how important physical activity is, in the lives of young people.

“Danceworks MHBT is not meant to substitute, but to supplement existing school programs. Unfortunately, for some of our students it’s the only arts experience and athletic activity that they are receiving.”

Farris said that participating teaches the kids more than dance steps, too.

“MHBT provides students with an opportunity to succeed at something they didn’t know they’d like or be good at. This success transfers to other classoom subjects and into their lives beyond school. We are so proud and thrilled when we see these students walk out onto the Bradley Center floor with such poise.”

The kids learn ballroom, tango, salsa, swing, tap and other dance styles in the competition. The final round takes place around 5:30 p.m.

Here are the schools participating in this year’s “Mad Hot Ballroom and Tap” competition:

  1. Academy of Learning and Leadership
  2. O.W. Holmes Elementary School
  3. Academia de Lenguaje y Bellas Artes (ALBA)
  4. HOPE Middle School
  5. Allen Field Elementary
  6. Keefe Avenue Elementary School
  7. Benjamin Franklin Elementary School
  8. Lincoln Center of the Arts Middle School
  9. Browning Elementary School
  10. Lowell Elementary School
  11. Bruce Guadalupe
  12. MacDowell Montessori School
  13. Cass Street School
  14. Maple Tree Elementary School
  15. Clarke Street School
  16. Maryland Avenue Montessori School
  17. Clement Avenue School
  18. Messmer
  19. Preparatory Catholic School
  20. Cooper Elementary School
  21. Nativity Jesuit Middle School
  22. Craig Montessori Elementary School
  23. Notre Dame Middle School
  24. Doerfler Elementary School
  25. Pierce Elementary School
  26. Elm Creative Arts School
  27. Roosevelt Elementary School
  28. Elm Dale Elementary School
  29. Siefert Elementary School
  30. Fletcher School
  31. St. Rafael School
  32. La Escuela Fratney
  33. St. Rose/St. Leo Catholic Urban Academies
  34. Fritsche Middle School
  35. Tippecanoe School for the Arts and Humanities
  36. Golda Meir School
  37. Trowbridge School of Discovery and Technology
  38. Greenfield Bilingual School
  39. Escuela Vieau School
  40. Hartford Avenue University School
  41. Wedgewood Park International School
  42. Hmong-American Peace Academy

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