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Just Dancing

a Short Film by Vilsoni & Jeannette Hereniko


A policeman finds his runaway wife on the beach learning to dance from the Polynesian Moon Goddess. His wife's search for her cultural roots and self-actualization causes the policeman to question his beliefs and values.

Director's Statement

byVilsoni Hereniko

Growing up on a small Polynesian Island in Fiji where everyone was either a Methodist or Catholic, I was puzzled by why dance which was an integral part of everyday cultural life was absent during church worship. What is it about dance, especially Polynesian dancing, that is so threatening to certain religious denominations?

The caption on an article in The Honolulu Star-Bulletin on July 9, 1998 reads "Bishop plans to appeal Vatican's ban on dance." A letter to the editor which appeared- in the same paper on July 21 expresses concern about this ban on dance and ends thus: "It is clear to me, having lived in these islands [Hawaii] on and off for 20-plus years ... that hula and music are much more than just "dance." I only wish that all among us can appreciate that."

Just Dancing explores the centrality of dance for Polynesians as well as die-hard prejudices about Polynesian dances that have persisted in the Pacific for more than a century.

Further, dance in this film becomes a metaphor for self-actualization. To dance is to be free of fear, inhibition, shame. To dance is to be in touch with one's inner self, to express oneself creatively and freely. From this perspective, dance is a threat to those who preach conformity, rules, and commandments.

What happens then to a marriage between a dancer and a non-dancer, between a woman who aspires to be the kind of person she wants to be and a man who sees his role in life, and hers as well, to be that of maintaining the status quo? Just Dancing explores this tension between the individual and the group, and suggests a way out of this dilemma.

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