Film Review: Dancing in Jaffa

After developing a highly successful organization called “Dancing Classrooms” in New York City, world champion ballroom dancer, Pierre Dulaine, returns to his hometown in Jaffa, Israel with an ambitious project in mind. He wants to teach young Jewish and Palestinian children to dance with each other—their enemies. His dreams are met with resistance at the outset from parents and students alike in Jaffa’s tense socio-political environment. Yet Dulaine persists, certain of the self-respect and courtesy that can be learned through the steps of the waltz, rumba, and tango.Dulaine offers dance lessons at five schools, some primarily Jewish, others Arab, and one mixed. This delightful documentary follows the trials and triumphs of the 10-week program, and highlights the progress of three students. They include Lois, a cheerful Israeli Jew; her partner, Alaa, a sweet and shy Palestinian boy living in poverty; and Noor, a Muslim girl with no friends who mourns the loss of her father. Through the course of the program, Lois and Alaa form an unlikely friendship while Noor begins to blossom with confidence.The film culminates in a dance competition, with students dancing hand-in-hand and parents watching proudly side-by-side. This story shows the possibility to overcome immense cultural barriers through the simple art of dance in one community. “Dancing in Jaffa” provides both entertainment and exposure to the region’s challenges, ultimately leaving the viewer with a sense of hope for the future.[embed][/embed]Image credit: Google images