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Debut director Marilyn Agrelo and writer Amy Sewell provide an insightful and often hilarious look at a group of eleven-year-old New York City public school kids who journey into the world of ballroom dancing to learn the merengue, rumba, tango, swing and the foxtrot. Along the way, they reveal themselves and their world as they try to compete in the final citywide competition. Told from their candid perspectives, these kids are transformed from reluctant participants to determined competitors, from typical urban kids to "ladies and gentlemen."

 The Gorey Details

I’m actually a very dark person. I always have been. The books and movies that I’m attracted to typically contain some (or all) of these essential elements: malice, betrayal, deception, despair, and of course– forbidden lust. To me, any experience worth having has some element of risk, and any story worth telling contains some hint of darkness. This philosophy has gotten me into some trouble over the years, but that’s another story.

It’s really ironic (and a strange twist of fate) that I’ve spent the last year and a half being completely and utterly consumed by the creation of a film about kids, of all things. My good friend and producing partner Amy Sewell called me with her idea for this movie, and somehow I became hooked. Never in a million years could I have imagined such an improbable thing happening. Yet, this tale of New York City kids became my reason for getting up in the morning. In fact, before actually getting up I would lay in bed obsessing over finding the perfect way to tell this little gem of a story.

There is hardly anything that stops me dead in my tracks more than expressions like “wholesome” or “family fun.” This has become a joke between Amy and me. She has, on more than one occasion, gleefully tapped me under the table in meetings when someone is describing our film in “feel good” terms because she knows how this kind of talk fills me with anxiety.

Amy gave me a book for my birthday by Edward Gorey called The Gashlycrumb Tinies. For those who don’t know, Edward Gorey (1925-2000) was an author and illustrator of many unique books that often have the appearance of children’s stories, but are usually much more ominous, even sinister. The Gashlycrumb Tinies uses the alphabet to tell dark little tales. I feel that Edward Gorey and I are kindred spirits.

So in the spirit of Mr. Gorey, I have written my own Tinies about the trials and tribulations of the past and coming year.

is for Angst
felt in making this movie
is for Boyfriend
who made it all groovy
is for Chanel,
which I hope to afford
is for Dreaming
of winning award
is for Easy,
which this film was not
is for Friends,
who laugh with me a lot
is for Gay men
who help me get through it
is for Having
the strength just to do it
is for Ideas
about how to proceed
is for Jobs,
which I hope I won’t need
is for Kids,
who danced into my heart
is for Longing
to sound like I’m smart
is for Mini,
which I’d like to drive
is for Nervous—
how will I survive?
is for Omens
of what is in store
is for Packing
and airports galore
is for Questions
of what to do next
is for Racing
back home to have sex
is for having
Spectacular times
is for Tired
of making these rhymes
is for working hard
Under the gun
is for Visions
of travel and fun
is for Wisdom
to know when to stop
X,Y and Z
is for loving to shop

Amy has promised that our next project together could be dark, but then again, maybe not.