Billy Elliot

with Jamie Bell

Viewed March 9, 2002

It was exciting for me in this movie to watch a kid begin to realize that he was passionate about dance, even though his family thought dancing was a "sissy" thing to do. The themes in the movie triggered an avalanche of questions; we usually have eight, and we weren't able to stop until we reached eleven. So the challenge of finding and expressing our talents and dreams evidently sparked some deep feelings in many of us, and that was reflected in the discussion.

Nearly all of the questions tackle the ways in which we handle our talents, our hopes and our dreams for the future, and that's what we focused our discussion on. One person told the story of how her father had never been in favor of women getting educated, since he believed that would make them less humane and less happy. Nonetheless, she went to college, and he supported her financially. When a few years later he helped her move out on her own, she realized that the chasm between them had been bridged. She told him that she understood now that he accepted her unconditionally, and it was an emotionally-pivotal moment when he said, "I'm glad you realize that now."

Someone else said that his dreams were crucial to his happiness, because the years when he felt he had failed in his dreams were the most devastating years of his life. Another person commented that the questions we wrote down failed to mention one very important work: risk. She said that her willingness to take risks determined whether or not she really followed her bliss. For example, she was once offered a job at the White House, but turned it down because she had already accepted another job and didn't feel like she could risk disappointing that boss. However, she feels disappointed now that she didn't accept it.

Others talked about how the encouragement of friends has help them face the risks that come with expressing their gifts. One person said that she usually disappears whenever there's any interpersonal conflict, and when she went on the Center's personal-growth field trip to Mexico, there wasn't anyplace she could disappear to. However, since everyone there was committed to communicating about issues rather than running away from them, she learned that it was possible for a group to resolve problems instead of ignoring them. She was amazed at how much fun she had, in spite of (or maybe because of) being encouraged to take the risk of communicating, and then seeing good communication skills actually work.

Here are the questions:


  1. How has my parents' love and support impacted my life, and how have I been able to pass that along to others?
  2. What have I done with my passions/talents/gifts? What do I WANT to do?
  3. What were the turning points where I chose to enliven or deaden my passions or gifts?
  4. How do I stretch myself to be more than I am?
  5. How hard am I willing to work for what I want?
  6. How do I hold on to/generate bliss?
  7. How do I restrain myself from expressing joy?
  8. In what way has my parents' (in)ability to express their emotions affected my ability to express my emotions?
  9. What have I done with my dreams?
  10. How am I different from my family?
  11. How do I break out of "the mold"?