Dialog Box

Health & Wellbeing
The Dangerous Dance
A documentary film about childhood trauma, domestic violence and the way forward

The numbers are in; about 50% of us have had childhoods that have negatively impacted our adult lives. Right now, about 50% of our children are being set up for struggle in their adulthoods.

These difficulties range from an inability to form lasting intimate relationships through to full blown domestic violence and abuse.

As a result of scientific studies, including the ground-breaking Adverse Childhood Experience study, The Harvard Centre on the Developing Child was established in 2006. It’s mission is to drive science-based innovation that achieves breakthrough outcomes for children facing adversity. Its goal is to produce substantially larger impacts on the learning capacity, health, and economic and social mobility of young children.

The Harvard Centre on the Developing Child is just one of many institutions working in this area.

So the good news is we now have science based research that informs us about how to reduce the number of children being set up for troubled adulthoods.

With regard to domestic violence and abuse in Western democracies, we've raised awareness and reduced domestic violence by looking at gender equality and respect, now it's time to take the next step.

The impact of childhood stress and trauma is impaired brain development

A child fills their brain with stories about themselves and the world learning from what goes on around them. If these are negative, bleak stories those beliefs will be carried into adulthood often with nightmare consequences. These may include abuse, violence, addiction, alcoholism, mental illness or any combination of these.

The Dangerous Dance features stories of adults who have managed to turn their lives around by changing their beliefs about themselves the world. Thanks to neuroscience we can literally see the new neural pathways that are being built.

It talks to experts who help adults and whole families to change the way they see the world and how they behave.

And it talks to neuroscientists who have the data about what type of childhood supports healthy brain development. And how we can change our brain in adulthood to create far better adult lives.


How does the project meet the aims of a philanthropic foundation?

We need to start asking ’What happened to you?’ instead of ‘What’s wrong with you?’

In the face of anti-social or destructive behaviour we need to start asking ‘What happened to you?’. This strips judgement away. It creates a safe space so we can join the dots, between our childhood behaviours and beliefs, and our adult behaviours and beliefs.

In childhood we create behaviours and beliefs to survive an environment we can't leave, no matter how traumatic it is. As adults it is safe to change limiting childhood behaviours and beliefs. This means we can positively influence our experience of adulthood. This is not easy, but with the right support, it can be done.

Our culture further complicates our ability to self-reflect and change our minds and behaviours in adulthood. Our films are full of ‘heroes’ and, more recently ‘heroines’, who are admired for their stoic invulnerability and their routine use of violence and force to settle conflicts. Think of all the superhero films that are so popular these days. And think of all the gore, guts and blood that we routinely see in films and in TV shows. There are too few positive role models for us to emulate as we grow up.

The Dangerous Dance will role model what it takes to create a fulfilled adult life by featuring stories of people who have changed from their alienation and destructiveness to lives that are fulfilling and inspiring.

Aims & Objectives

What outcomes do you hope to achieve by making this film and how will you measure its impact?

The goal of the documentary is to create culture change that lowers the incidence of domestic abuse and violence 

At a basic level culture is made up of the stories we tell ourselves about who we are. This is true at the group level and at the individual level. 

As an individual adult, when we find ourselves acting destructively towards others or ourselves, we have to explore the causal level of childhood if we want to create lasting change. 

The Dangerous Dance seeks to spread the idea and practise of self-reflection when it comes to understanding ourselves as adults. If we want to change, we must look within. Growing up is an inside job. It's not an easy job, however it is a vital ingredient if we want a fulfilling adulthood and a caring culture.

We need compassion and empathy to be the norm, not the exception. And it can be done.


What is your education and outreach strategy?

The Dangerous Dance documentary production was launched at a gala dinner on 10th August 2016 with keynote speaker General David Morrison, Australian of the Year. The event introduced some of the topics, goals and themes that the documentary will cover.

Fundraising of the budget was kicked off and an initial $90,000 was pledged at the event. So far $20,000 of that has been received. That means we are still in the fundraising stage as well as pushing ahead with as much production as we can manage while seeking further funding.

Once the documentary is completed it will be entered into local and international film festivals. After this we will aim for screening in independent cinemas followed by release on TV.

We anticipate release online after screening and broadcasts.

Additionally we foresee The Dangerous Dance website becoming an educational resource with short versions of the documentary designed for a range of audiences i.e. school children, social workers, corporations and institutions that want to benefit from the ideas put forward in The Dangerous Dance.

With many contacts in the corporate training space we also aim to produce other training materials to support the ideas put forward in The Dangerous Dance.

Claire Stretch
Claire Stretch
Total budget
90 Minutes