JFSLA’s Chaverim Program Celebrates 5th Anniversary of Their Film, Bella Danza 

JFSLA’s Chaverim Program for adults with special needs hosted a special screening to celebrate the 5th anniversary of their film, Bella Danza. More than 100 people watched the heartwarming story of four couples with special needs who join a dance competition.

Bella Danza was a labor of love,” said Gerry Dicker, JFSLA’s Chaverim Program Coordinator. “When it was screened at the theater debut in 2018, participants saw themselves on the big screen. What a moment and sense of accomplishment. A lot of tissues were used by family members that day. It was one of the best projects that I have worked on in my almost 25 years at JFSLA. A shining example of how we must focus on the abilities of those with special needs. They will surprise you with their talents.”

In 2017, Chaverim staff pursued funds to help them purchase film equipment. The Chaverim participants were then inspired to make a film of their own. While on a trip to Solvang, the group collaboratively wrote a 50-minute script. For the next 18 months, Chaverim members rehearsed and acted out scenes with the help of Chaverim staff who directed and edited the film.

In 2018, the film premiered at the Laemmle Town Center Theater, providing Chaverim participants with a memorable red carpet experience. Greg Laemmle, the theater owner, helped make the experience unforgettable for all who attended.

“For the 5th anniversary of our film, my goal was to replicate the red carpet experience for Chaverim participants and pay tribute to their dedicated efforts in making the film,” said Gerry. “Mr. Laemmle agreed to let us rent out the theater again. We are very grateful for his generosity.” 

Gerry Dicker wishes to thank all those who attended and celebrated the 5th anniversary of Bella Danza. He hopes the audience appreciated the impactful message Chaverim members aimed to convey. “Our film’s tagline captures the message perfectly — ‘When Life Gives you the Chance, Dance that Beautiful Dance.’ When an opportunity arises, even if it lies beyond your comfort zone, seize it. You might just discover hidden facets of yourself.” 

For more information about JFSLA’s Chaverim Program, visit To support JFSLA’s Chaverim Program, please visit