Founded in2006 by Danceworks Executive Director Deb Farris and Rotarian Mario Costantini, Mad Hot Ballroom and Tap (MHBT) is an educational dance program, providing desperately needed arts and physical education programming to underserved urban youth in low-income, central city schools. The RCM Community Trust has supported MHBT at varying levels since its inception. Most recently, the Trust funded the participation of Brown Street Academy, one of RCM’s two partner schools, for the 2014 program.
Danceworks MHBT runs February-May. Participating schools select one 4th or 5th grade classroom to participate in tap and one 5th or 6th grade classroom to participate in ballroom. Danceworks instructors provide one-hour dance classes twice per week for each style of dance over the course of 12 weeks—24 total hours of dance per classroom. Culminating performances at each school, as well as an annual Danceworks MHBT Competition held at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in downtown Milwaukee, cap off the program in May.
The 2013 MHBT program served 45 Milwaukee public and private schools, 86 classrooms and nearly 2,300 kids. Mad Hot Ballroom and Tap teaches life skills and increases physical activity and school engagement by integrating tap and ballroom dance into the regular school curriculum. MHBT aims to provide arts and physical education opportunities for students who otherwise lack access, to encourage respect, and to improve attitudes toward physical activity and an active lifestyle.
Mad Hot Ballroom and Tap, and RCM’s support of the program, sparked the interest of The Rotarian magazine, published by Rotary International. An editor at The Rotarian is currently following the Brown Street Academy class as the students learn how to dance and will cover the final competition in the spring.