Let the Band Play On

Directed by Naomi Boak

USA / 6 min

Twice a month, the dance therapy group Rhythm Break Cares leads a ballroom dancing session at the 80th Street Residence, an assisted living facility for people with dementia in New York City. Residents, health aides, and family are all transformed by the power of music and dance.

“When asked to produce a film for this series,” says director Naomi Boak, “my first thought was to pass along the great life lesson from my father’s Alzheimer’s: the importance of living in the moment, in my dad’s moment.

“Early on in the course of his disease, I mistook his arguments and misunderstandings for stubbornness. When I finally realized it was the disease doing that and not him, I stopped arguing and life became much easier for both of us. As his disease progressed and our conversations became more difficult, I learned to let go and follow his thoughts wherever they went. We were able to truly enjoy our time together. Living in the moment became my mantra and his route to happiness. I would bring books about dogs, cars and design — all things he loved and would react to in the moment. We found much life and laughter amid the tears.

“How could I convey that lesson in a short film? As a filmmaker, I looked for stories that resonated with my profound experience. When I found the ballroom dancing sessions at the 80th Street Residence, I knew I had found the perfect vehicle. Here were people living and loving and laughing, enjoying the moment. It only took me a year to figure out how to translate that lesson into a 6-minute film, but it was worth it. I still smile when I watch the film.”


Other films in the series


De ‘mem’bunce (The Remembrance)

Directed by Roger Ross Williams


My Little Friends

Directed by Megan Mylan


A Place Called Pluto

Directed by Steve James