Dancing in the Dark by Robyn Bavati explores the double life of Ditty, a young Haredi Jew, when she discovers the beautiful world of ballet and the passion it invokes in her. Along with this passion the darkness of an invisible wall of fundamentalist religion held together by the rigidity of her family and community.
Bavati breathes life into Ditty's dream of dancing and the depth of deceit she had to descend into to bring her passion for dance into reality.
As a young girl, Ditty happens upon a DVD of The Nutcracker while watching television in a forbidden venue--her dear friend's mother had surreptitiously purchased a television that she hides far back in her closet. Ditty could not turn herself away from the transfixing dance before her.
The movements seemed to ripple through me as my body flowed to the music, and my spirits lifted. I felt vulnerable and vibrant and intensely alive, bursting with feeling I hadn't know existed, couldn't name.
The television and DVD player opens a door to another world. Ditty and her friend become enamored with the life that spread before them. Ditty, at twelve begins to question the dictates of her faith that should, according to her religious parents and community, fill her with all the happiness and joy she could want.
But what, I wondered now, did they actually mean? I knew what I'd been taught – that happiness wasn't something a Jew should strive for, it was a bonus that came from keeping the laws and strictures that had been passed down from one generation to the next.