Friday, June 12, 2009


B y D.E.Levine

Director: Dori Berinstein
Producer: Dori Berinstein
Executive Producers: Linda Goldstein Knowlton, Adam Miller, Alan Fisher and Glen Siegel
Co-producer: Leo Lawrence
Written by: Dori Berinstein and Adam Zucker
Cast: Jaclyn Sabol, Marla Collins, Kimberlee Garris, Petra Pope and the 2007 NETSational Dance Team
Music: Craig Sharmat
Country of Origin: USA
Language: English
Genre: Documentary
Running Time: 95 Minutes

This is more than a feel good film about getting old and keeping active. It's an important and joyous statement about the individuality of seniors and their desire to participate in life, regardless of their age.

By the end of the film the audience is filled with an elation rarely felt after watching any performance.

In 2007 Dori Berinstein had an idea to follow the tryouts of the New Jersey Nets basketball franchise as they recruited a senior hip-hop team.

The Nets already had a professional dance team of "hot" young women aged 18-28, a kids dance team, and an athletic cheer leading team. It's obvious that the franchise takes the entertainment it presents to the audience seriously.

Advertising for an investing in a senior dance troupe was going out on a limb to say the least, and there wasn't any assurance the idea would work.

With permission from the NJ Nets, Berinstein followed and filmed the auditions for the senior dance team and after 12 women and 1 man were selected, she continued to film them during grueling rehearsals.

Aged 60-83 at the time, with a diverse background, the common bond between the seniors selected is their genuine love of dance (although inexperienced in hip-hop).

In addition to following their dance training, Berinstein fills in their individual backgrounds and documents their bonding over dinners and other outings. Using title cards, Berinstein divides the picture into cohesive chapters.

Two of the oldest dancers have granddaughters on the Nets' professional dance team, and the interaction between youth and seniors is both touching and educational, as the elders comment that the younger girls "don't think they'll ever be this old" even as they steadily march towards their senior years.

Before the film is over, it reaches a climax when the senior dance troupe, the NETSationals, perform at the halftime show to a wild reception from the Meadowlands crowd.

Following their debut, they become the "toast of the town" and of every morning show and sports page.

If "Dancing With The Stars" is popular, it's nothing in comparison to the rich reception the NETSationals continually receive, climaxing that first year with a final half-time show that includes a face-off with the kids' dance troupe.

Now in their third year the NETSationals include six of their original members and are still extremely popular.

The film begins and ends with credit sequence showing each senior dancer shimmying against a stark white background so sitting through all of the credits is really necessary to achieve the full impact of the film.

The film, which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2008 and won the Palm Springs Documentary Award is the catalyst for "Gotta Dance" lessons on cruise lines and inspirational interviews with dance troupe members.

Gotta Dance will open at the Beekman Theater in New York City on July 31 for a limited run. It's a rare treat and should be seen by viewers of all ages.