Step one: Put on your dancing shoes. Step two: Grab a partner. Step three: Tango!
Ballroom dancing, from the fox trot to the charleston, has long been a popular part of American culture. Adults love it, but lately, younger generations have been tapping into the music and rhythm of the waltz and the cha-cha – dances that once excited their parents and grandparents.
This is due in part to ballroom dancing’s resurgence in television and film.
In the recent documentary “Mad Hot Ballroom,” now available on DVD from Paramount Home Entertainment, pupils from three New York City schools discover the world of ballroom dancing through 10 weeks of required classes taught by the American Ballroom Theater.
The film showcases the children’s candid, innocent and hilarious perspectives as they are transformed from typical urban kids to “ladies and gentlemen.”
With each scene, the audience watches as they strive to meet their ultimate goal – the final city competition known as the Rainbow Team Matches.
Kids are not the only ones with a renewed interest in the dance form. Parents, too, are recognizing the potential of ballroom dancing in keeping their children occupied, out of trouble and in shape.
Studies on the benefits of ballroom dancing conducted by California State University at Long Beach show that even beginning students can get their heart rates up to near-maximum training rates with a five-minute warm-up and a 20-minute cha-cha, polka or swing. Moderate ballroom dancing burns between 250 and 300 calories per hour. Vigorous dancing can burn as many as 400 calories per hour.
Along with its benefits to the body, ballroom dancing develops coordination and teaches children important lessons in social interaction and good manners.