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Film chronicles hip-hop dancing seniors

Hollywood Wrap with George Pennacchio
August 18, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
There's an inspiring new film opening this weekend called "Gotta Dance." It has great spirit, joy... And come on, where else are you going to find seniors who hip-hop? This is a movie you just want to give a big hug.The documentary, "Gotta Dance," introduces us to the NETSational Seniors, the New Jersey Nets' senior hip-hop dance team. They've been around three years now, but the film focuses on how it all started.

"And all of a sudden, we break out into hip-hop, [the fans] go berserk," said team member Deanna Schwartz. "I mean, I've never seen anything like it. They actually go berserk."

The numbers the dancers wear represent their ages at the time the movie was filmed. They're now all two years older.

"We open the movie with the line, 'Age doesn't matter unless you're a cheese,'" said Dori Berinstein, who produced and directed the movie. "And I deeply believe that, and that really is the inspiration for the film."

Berinstein hopes people who see "Gotta Dance" will be inspired to do whatever it is they want to do in life.

Her dancers already are great examples of the joy it's brought them.

"Life is very short, and we don't know what's around the corner, what's going to happen to us tomorrow," said team member Edie Ollewerther. "So if you have an opportunity to get out there and do something new, I definitely think you should."

"When we run out on the court, and when we're doing the hip-hop and they're screaming, there's nothing like it in the world," said Schwartz. "Nothing like it in the world. It's a drug."

"The crowd is high-fiving us, and these young kids are yelling, 'You still got it, girl,'" said team member Claire Gaines. "And I have to admit that I love it."

"It also proved to be an incredible bonding experience with the young dancers -- both the Nets dancers that were training them, as well as the kid dancers," said Berinstein.

For Deanna, Claire, Edie and all the other dancers, it's been sensational for the NETSationals.

"I know they've gotten E-mails and phone calls asking when the seniors - the NETSationals - are at the games, because people want to come specifically to see us," said Ollewerther.

"I also want to say that dreams are not the monopoly of the young, they are not the province of the young," said Gaines. "That older people have them and should pursue them just as much as younger people should."

There are plans in place to take "Gotta Dance" to the Broadway stage. Meantime, the film opens in limited release on Friday.

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