This blog began in 2010 as part of the publisher’s promotional materials for my travel book, The Single Girl’s Guide to Meeting European Men. The book rose to #1 on Amazon’s Best-Sellers List within two weeks of publication, and is still selling. The blog has been expanded to cover my other pursuits.

Dancing in Jaffa

April, 30, 2014

Last weekend, I was honored to meet Pierre Dulaine, four-time ballroom dancing world champion. Pierre’s passion is creating “Dancing Classrooms” in public schools, where troubled youth learn to overcome hostility and insecurity through dance. This was the theme of the film, Take the Lead, with Antonio Banderas portraying Pierre.

Take the Lead

Together with Pierre, I attended the Northwest premiere of another film about him, Dancing in Jaffa. This is a documentary showing Pierre fulfill his dream of returning to his birthplace – a hotbed of hostility in a Tel Aviv town – and bringing together adversaries, Palestinian Israelis and Jews, by teaching those children to dance together.

Pierre Dulaine

As Pierre explained, “What I’m asking them to do is dance with the enemy.” At first, many of the children refused. Pierre, who is 70, was on the verge of quitting when he showed his young charges a film clip of him dancing with his career-long partner, Yvonne Marceau, when they were in their prime. Then Yvonne flew to Jaffa to help. That was the turning point. When the children saw the unconditional love Pierre and Yvonne had for them, they were willing to do what their instructor asked. As they did their love for dance grew, their hostility melted away, and they began to care for one another.

Dancing in Jaffa

When one of Pierre’s young students began the program, she was grieving for her deceased father, and so full of hostility that she did not have friends and no one dared to dance with her. Again, Yvonne came to the rescue. She offered to be the girl’s partner and practiced with her privately. Then her tough exterior came crashing down, and her self-esteem and popularity blossomed.

Pierre and Yvonne

As her fifth-grade teacher explained, “She was like a closed flower. Through dance, she’s opening to the sun.”

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