© MFA/Filmagentinnen

Dancing in Jaffa
U.S.A. 2013

Opening 9 Jan 2014

Directed by: Hilla Medalia
Writing credits: Philip Shane, Hilla Medalia

This documentary is about how one person can make such a difference in so many lives: Pierre Dulaine’s mission of peace is personal. In 1994 the famous ballroom dancer began his Dancing Classrooms (DC), believing that when people dance together some indescribable feeling takes over. Returning to Jaffa, his hometown now a suburb of Tel Aviv, Israel, he introduces his 10-week innovative social-development program. DC stresses respect, trust, and self-confidence, culminating with a dance competition before an audience.

Selecting fifth-graders from five Jewish-Israeli, Palestinian-Israeli, and mixed schools, Pierre avows what they learn will stay with them for life. Pubescent kids are difficult anyway, but pairing Jewish and Palestinian girls and boys as dance partners is especially daunting. Meeting strong resistance, he asks his professional dancing partner of 35-years Yvonne Marceau for help. Seeing them dance together sparks the kids desire to learn; we become personally acquainted with Noor, Lois, and Alaa. As the competition draws near the kids forget prejudices, as do their families and friends.

With so many documentaries harbingering doom, director Hilla Medalia’s is refreshing and uplifting to watch. Production values are strong, the music good. Visual elements transcend the German subtitles as we learn how enduring Dulaine’s imprint is. (Marinell Haegelin)

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