Students to participate in Mad Hot Ballroom Competition

Nearly 2,000 students from 39 schools in the Milwaukee area will participate in the fifth annual Danceworks Mad Hot Ballroom and Tap Competition at The Bradley Center on Thursday, May 14. The event will kick off at 9 a.m. that morning.

The competition is modeled after the successful New York City schools program featured in the hit documentary Mad Hot Ballroom. The program integrates tap and ballroom dance into the regular school curriculum and focuses on teaching life skills and strives to improve school attendance and academic performance. 

Students receive instruction from professional teaching artists over the course of 12 weeks. The majority of schools participating in the program are located in low-income neighborhoods of the city.
“Arts education, as well as physical education classes, is being eliminated in schools at an alarming rate,” said Deborah Farris, Danceworks executive director. “We recognize how powerful the creative arts experience can be, and how important physical activity is, in the lives of young people.”

According to Farris, the program is not meant to substitute for existing school programs but supplement them. 
“Unfortunately, for some of our students it’s the only arts experience and athletic activity that they are receiving,” Farris said. “The program 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 classroom 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 event will begin with an opening ceremony featuring teachers and principals from participating schools and then the Tap competition will commence. The Ballroom competition will start at approximately 2:30 p.m. The event will also feature guest performances by Native American hoop dancer Thirza Defoe and young dancers from Mad Hot Ballroom and Tap Phase II, a training and performance program for continuing MHBT dancers. The event is free and open to the public.

Schools participating in this year’s Danceworks Mad Hot Ballroom Program include: Academia de Lenguaje y Bellas Artes, Lancaster Elementary, Allen-Field Elementary School, Lincoln Center of the Arts Middle School, Auer Avenue School, Lowell Elementary School, Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, MacDowell Montessori School, Cass Street School, Maryland Avenue Montessori School, Clarke Street School, Milwaukee College Preparatory School, Clement Avenue School, Milwaukee French Immersion School, Cooper Elementary School, Nativity Jesuit Middle School, Craig Montessori School, Notre Dame Middle School, Doerfler School, O.W. Holmes Elementary School, Elm Creative Arts School, Pierce Elementary School, Elm Dale Elementary School, Roosevelt Elementary School, La Escuela Fratney, Siefert Elementary School, Fritsche Middle School, St. Anthony School, Garden Homes School, Rafael School, Golda Meir School, Tippecanoe School for the Arts and Humanities, Greenfield Bilingual School, Trowbridge School of Discovery and Technology, Hartford Avenue University School, Escuela Vieau School, HOPE Christian School , Wedgewood Park International School and Keefe Avenue Elementary School.

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