Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dance Therapy

One of my favorite "secrets" is that I'm a fairly good ballroom dancer. It's one of things for which I can take no credit, but that pleases me about myself. Hey, I'm with me 24/7 - there's bound to be something that I like about myself!

Dancing is good for me; it's exercise that I like, poise that I don't have otherwise and great training at listening to a partner. A man named Pierre Dulaine took what he loved about dance to schools in New York City, teaching kids about art, pride, confidence and respect. The program is called Dancing Classrooms and, as of 2006, has thirty-three teachers in sixty-seven schools in NYC as well as one school in New Jersey, teaching at least 7500 children twice a week. It is now spreading across the USA and Canada.

Pierre was born in Palestine, to an Irish father stationed there and a part French part Palestinian mother. They left because of increasing political unrest and settled in Jordan, only to move to England when Pierre was thirteen. A year later, he began his dancing career. I find it fascinating that he spoke French at school, Arabic on the street and English at home.

A four time Blackpool winner, he has had a successful career in dance. Even at a young age he won many awards and performed before prestigious audiences. He has been a faculty member of both the School of American Ballet and the Juilliard School.

The Dulaine method is compared to the Montessori Method and the Suzuki Method, described as "a clear and compelling philosophy with a rigorous and systematic training model." They say they teach from the inside out, not outside in. There are six components taught in every action:
1. Respect & Compassion
2. Being Present
3. Creating a Safe Place
4. Command & Control
5. Language: Body & Verbal
6. Humor & Joy

Pierre Dulaine's story has been made into a movie, Take the Lead with Antonio Banderas. Real life story telling!! Almost. Pierre says the only resemblance to his character is the same name. Ooops. And the children taught are more 10-11 year olds than high school dropouts. Ooops.

It's still a fun movie and brings attention to a program people might not know exists. This is one of my favorite scenes from the movie, where Pierre is trying to show the inner city kids that ballroom can be just as hot as their flavor of dance.

How often do we get inspiration from life for our writing and kind of get carried away with it until there's not much truth left? Is that a good thing, because we are actually creating and making fiction? Yet if we are supposed to be telling a true story, how do we get back to the reality?


  1. Perhaps you have determine what your goal is. Tell the real-life story? Create something beautiful with a recognizable inspiration? Or perhaps your goal is to capture the real-life spirit and heart of a story while being free with the storyline. I think it's a good idea to let your audience know what your goal is, so that you don't mislead them with a false message of what was "real." If you aren't trying to faithfully represent a real person, perhaps you should change the name? My guess is there are as many answers as there are stories to tell. :)

  2. I agree!! It's just always interesting to decipher what they mean when they say moves are "based on a true story" or when they say it's a "true story." I agree with changing the names at least and then saying "This is the individual who inspired this fiction."