Women of Valor



Barbara Myerhoff, 1935 - 1985

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Dancing at the Israel Levin Senior Center

"The film brought the Center immediate attention—visitors, donations, the establishment of programs, some of which went on for years. The capacity of film to change consciousness has always been clear; what had not been so clear to me previously was the extent to which film can be a service as well as a record....And watching people's responses to particular moments

is also a source of research data. In one scene, an older woman without a partner dances tentatively at first, then picks up momentum and ends up dancing with great verve....It is an emblematic moment in which one can see the crystallization of years of experience: the steps, leading up to the courage to be so alive though alone, are laid out like pebbles marking a path."

"Audiences of all ages and both sexes often gasp at that image. And Gita, the proud ballerina who is accompanied in her dance by her blind husband, becomes another such emblem. He holds her wrist with reverence, and it is evident that he still sees her beauty....At this instant, the Center is no longer a miniature arena; it swells to become as immense as the grandest stage in one of life's most exalted enterprises. The common human impulse for beauty and an exhibition of grace are identified; the couple is not any longer cute or endearing but magnificent. Such a transformation can only be felt through film..."

  1. Barbara, Myerhoff, ""Surviving Stories," Remembered Lives: the Work of Ritual, Storytelling, and Growing Older, ed. Marc Kaminsky (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992) 293-5.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women of Valor - Barbara Myerhoff - Transformation." (Viewed on April 17, 2014) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/myerhoff/transformation>.