A New View Film Series: Dancing in Jaffa Summary

A New View Film Series: Dancing in Jaffa Summary

[The following summary may contain spoilers.]

On Thursday, April 14th, 2016, we watched as Pierre Dulaine, an internationally renowned ballroom dancer, fulfills a life-long dream when he takes his program, Dancing Classrooms, back to his city of birth, Jaffa. Over a ten-week period, Pierre teaches 10-year-old Jewish and Palestinian Israeli children to dance and compete together. As someone who has been teaching American kids for over 30 years, Dulaine hopes his teachings will ease the struggle of the discrimination between Palestinian Israelis and Jewish Israelis. The film focuses mainly on middle schools in Jaffa, while masterfully highlighting the complex stories of three different children, Alaa, Lois, and Noor, who are forced to confront issues of identity, segregation and racial prejudice as they dance with their “enemy.”

As Dulaine goes from school to school, he is met with much protest from chdj1ildren, some afraid of dancing in general, some afraid of dancing with the opposite gender. Still, Dulaine persists, teaching the boys to start with “May I have this dance, please?” and for the girls to respond, respectively, “With pleasure.” Dulaine keeps an uplifting and encouraging attitude throughout the entire process, not to mention his patience.

As Dulaine introduces the part of the project where the kids are told they will dance with other kids of different religions, the children are shocked and panicked. Some care more about what their parentDancing_in_Jaffa_Website_Image_1s will think rather than how they themselves feel about the situation, “My father would kill me if he knew I was dancing with an Arab,” says one of the young dancers. But as they continue to dance together, the children begin to learn more about each other, their families, and their stories. There’s an beautiful scene as Noor, typically a girl who doesn’t get along well with other children, tells her counselor, “it was the first time a girl from my class came over.” As the excitement over the dance competition grew, so did the trust between the dancing pairs.
After the movie ended, Louise Henderson from the Center for Interfaith Cooperation, led the community discussion. The discussion focused on thinking outside of the boundaries of Israel and to remember that these types of tensions are not limited to Israel. Tensions, frustrations, and feelings of inequalities are common problems, seen even in our own communities. Experiences of instances in the US between African Americans and whites, or people of different religions and ethnicities are some examples with which the audience came up.

Dancing in Jaffa was a spirit-lifting and encouraging movie that shows thimage1e importance of teaching tolerance and respect between different cultures and communities and the importance of teaching it at an early age. It didn’t take much for the kids to begin to see past the literal and hypothetical
lines which divided them and to form friendships outside of their norms. “We have two communities dancing together,” said Pierre Dulaine proudly as he considered his journey in Jaffa.


Join us July 14 for the launch of the 2016-2017 Film Series.



Written by Anna Krukover

Presented and Facilitated by the Desmond Tutu Center, Center for Interfaith Cooperation, and the Center for Faith and Vocation.

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