Posted by: Dr Martha Eddy | December 6, 2018

Community Building Through Dance: Approaches from Two Different Cultures

Image result for pierre dulaine dancing in jaffa

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In 2014, audiences across the world witnessed the power of movement for peace in the documentary film Dancing in Jaffa. Pierre Dulaine, co-founder of Dancing Classrooms, took on the challenge of teaching Israeli and Palestinian children to dance together when many of them would never have even considered this is a possibility. In an interview at The Aspen Institute, Dulaine stressed the importance of learning compassion and respect as a means of social development; ballroom dancing teaches this to the children through movement.

Image result for eun-me ahn dancing grandmothers

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“Dance makes you happy, and when you’re happy you’ve got a smile. When you’ve got a smile we can help each other and understand each other. That’s why we have to dance more. That’s all.” – Eun-Me Ahn

Eun-Me Ahn, choreographer and creator of Dancing Grandmothers, works with elderly women in Korea who have not had an outlet for self-expression and gives them the freedom to dance. These women have always been expected to take care of their family and have never been given the opportunity to do something for themselves. Dancing, as a form of ageless self-expression, is a way for them to do this. “We don’t have a special technique[…]but that is what makes it personal and pure,” says one of the dancers. 

Both Eun-Me Ahn and Pierre Dulaine are working towards creating peace and expression through movement in two very different contexts. How do you see these as related or not?


  1. These expressions of peace are related because dance is a universal language. Though in both contexts they are very different, with one working with elderly women in Korea and the other working with Israeli and Palestinian children, it shows how we can solve many different conflicts through the same language of dance.

  2. Community building is very imporatnt and particually applicable to the art form of dance. Through dance, one can faciltate the significance about mutual respect for others and that everyone is unique and imporatnt in their own way.

  3. Both of these approaches are extremely touching and powerful. It’s beautiful to see children at a young age being able to find and learn compassion though movement and through partner work. Working with partners and in groups enhances the ability to take in another persons emotions. It also stregthens creating a safe space for your partner to trust you. Both of these aspects are great tools for children to carry into their outside lives. And on the other end of the spectrum, it also goes to show you that it’s never to late to find movement. Even after caring for families for years, movement and release of expression can have an interesting way of taking care of YOU! Everyone is a dancer, as long as you are given the opportunity to EXPLORE!

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