Jul 15, 2010, 10:34 AM
Post #1 of 1
By Dr. Michael Gordon
I did something unusual awhile ago: I took a few afternoon hours off to join my wife at a screening of the 2009 Israeli film Ida’s Dance Club, which was playing at Toronto’s Jewish Film Festival.
The film is a warm, funny, sad and poignant tale of Ida (the director of a Tel Aviv Golden Age Club) and her innovative quest to bring music and dance to the members of her organization. Ida is a talented and creative musical program director and a caring and devoted social worker.
It’s time for the second annual ballroom dancing competition. Through the eyes, feet, smiles and intimate personal details of the club’s members and potential competitors’ lives, the viewers experience the solace, relief, emotional support, humour and companionship shared at the club. The upcoming competition provides the members with some motivation and respite from the difficult emotional and physical challenges that many face themselves and with their families.
The viewer becomes privy to the personal lives of the members, sharing their sorrows, joys, memories, anguish and aspirations. The audience can laugh and cry along with the dancers as they come alive to the music and share themselves with their partners, while gradually revealing glimpses of their present and past life experiences. The dancing is compelling, as is the music and song. Ida often sings as the dancers go through their routines.
One dancer, a significant focus of the film, was clearly a “star” during her past in the former Soviet Union. The film’s first scenes reveal her swinging and turning and gliding with a partner in a remarkable series of engaging dances as she takes joy in her own rhythmic and graceful mastery of ballroom dancing. As her story evolves, she is revealed as a person experiencing great personal anguish, which later gets translated into physical frailty. However, this does not keep her from exhibiting her intrinsic determination, strong ego, talent and grace.
For many reasons, the film resonated with me. My late mother was a wonderful dancer. In her later years, she attended our neighbourhood seniors centre, where she participated in dance programs and taught dance to the less well-inclined or experienced. She danced in performances all over New York with a group from the centre and loved nothing more than an opportunity to strut her stuff.
She loved family simchahs because if there was a band, she could ballroom dance with my father. She was clearly the lead, but he was a very good partner.
People would stop and watch them. When the music was suitable, she would do a solo or two, gracefully responding to almost any kind of music.
When I was a child, she taught me ballet and modern interpretative jazz steps and exercises. Those were her specialities from her adolescent and young adult years of dance training. She would also schlep me to dance performances all over New York. It formed the basis of my own love of dance.
She had a stroke that left her paralyzed and ultimately led to her death. But when she made some minimal recovery, I provided her with a tape player and earphones. She started rhythmically moving her non-paralyzed leg to the ballet music I played. I recall vividly how she pointed her toes in ballet style, despite her terrible disability.
Ida’s Dance Club brings joy and inspirational movement to her members and the film does the same for its viewers. Dance is a universal language of expression, joy and rhythmic movement that we can share with each other throughout a lifetime.
Dr. Michael Gordon is Medical Program Director, Palliative Care Baycrest Geriatric Health Care System in Toronto, Canada and Professor of Medicine, at the University of Toronto.
Dr. Gordon is the author of the engaging memoir Brooklyn Beginnings: A Geriatrician's Odyssey, published by I-Universe.
Brooklyn Beginnings is available in bookstores and online at: Indigo-Chapters, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and I-Universe
Moments That Matter: Cases in Ethical Eldercare: A Guide for Family Members, is available online at Amazon.ca.
His latest release is Late-Stage Dementia: providing comfort, compassion and care. It is available at Amazon and Indigo.
Visit Dr. Michael Gordon's website.
(This post was edited by MGordon_MD on Jul 15, 2010, 10:43 AM)