Saving the Last DanceMediation through Understanding


Gary J. Friedman, Jack Himmelstein, and Robert H. Mnookin

A mediation training video illustrating the non-caucus "Mediation through Understanding" model


The DVD or videotape of Saving the Last Dance can be purchased at a discounted rate along with its book, Challenging Conflict: Mediation through Understanding, co-winner of the 2008 CPR Book Award. See above for prices.

Produced by the Program on Negotiation in collaboration with the Center for Mediation in Law, this video demonstrates the “Mediation through Understanding” mediation model as applied to a highly charged business conflict. Focusing on a dispute between a dance company and its recently discharged choreographer, which raises intellectual and employment issues, the video alternates between excerpts from the mediation itself and an educational commentary.

The Mediation through Understanding model seen here shows the mediator working together with the parties and their lawyers in plenary session, without caucuses or shuttle diplomacy. In this mediation model, the law plays an essential but not necessarily dominant role. The mediator encourages understanding of differing perspectives, concerns, interests and aspirations. On the basis of this understanding, the participants work together to generate creative options to resolve the dispute.

Gary Friedman, co-founder and co-director of the Center for Mediation in Law, demonstrates the approach. Jack Himmelstein (also a co-founder and co-director of the Center), and Harvard Law School Professor Robert H. Mnookin offer insights into the dynamics of the mediation, and explain how it illustrates principles of the model.


Saving the Last Dance supplemental materials are available exclusively to purchasers of the Save the Last Dance videotape or DVD.

These materials are in the Adobe PDF format. You will need to have installed the Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to open these files. If you need this software, it can be downloaded from Adobe by clicking here.

Saving the Last Dance – Transcript (85.4 KB):

A complete transcript of the Saving the Last Dance video, including all mediation excerpts and educational commentary.

Saving the Last Dance – Written Supplement (136 KB)

A complete set of instructions for the role simulation on which the Saving the Last Dance video is based, including instructions for the Mediator, the choreographer Jackie, Dance Innovation’s Executive Director Mickey, Jackie’s attorney Connie, and Mickey’s attorney Joe. All parties’ instructions include copies of the original contract and the letter of discharge, and the attorneys’ instructions include confidential legal memoranda regarding the applicable case law.


Saving the Last Dance Attributes

Time required:
30 minutes – 1 hour
Teaching notes available:
Produced by:
Program on Negotiation & Center for Mediation in Law
Run Time:
51 minutes

PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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Soft copy vs. hard copy

You may order this role simulation in either soft copy (electronic) or hard copy (paper) format. If you select the soft copy option, you will receive an e-mail with a URL (website address) from which you may download an electronic file in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. You will have one week to download your materials from when you receive the email. You are then only authorized to use, print, or share the materials as many times as the number of copies you purchase. The TNRC charges for use of this simulation on a per-participant basis. Therefore, you must purchase a separate copy of this simulation for each person who will be participating, regardless of the number of roles in the simulation. You will only receive a link to one electronic file, which includes all general instructions, confidential instructions, and any teaching notes for the simulation. You should separate out the instructions before distributing to participants.

If you select the hard copy option, you will receive paper copies of this role simulation via the shipping method you select.

For additional information about the soft copy option, please visit our FAQ section, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at or 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.).

Please note: At the present time, Teaching Negotiation Resource Center soft copies are compatible with the following versions of the Adobe Acrobat Reader: English, German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean. If you have a different version of the Acrobat Reader, you may wish to download one of these at, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at, 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.), or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.) for further assistance. This restriction does not apply to the freely available Teacher’s Package Review Copies.

Ordering a single copy for review

If you wish to review the materials for a particular role simulation to decide whether you’d like to use it, a PDF, or soft copy, version of the Teacher’s Package for the simulation is available as a free download from the description page of most role simulations and case studies. All Teacher’s Packages include copies of all participant materials. In addition, some Teacher’s Packages (but not all) include additional teaching materials such as teaching notes or overhead masters.

Ordering copies for multiple participants

To order multiple copies of a role simulation for use in a course or workshop, simply enter the total number of participants in the box next to “Quantity.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required.

If you are ordering hard copies, the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center will calculate the appropriate numbers of each role to provide, based on the total number of participants. For example, if you wish to order a 2-party role simulation for use with a class of 30 students, you would enter “30” in the box next to “Quantity.” You then would receive 15 copies of one role and 15 copies of the other role, for use with your 30 participants. As another example, if you ordered 30 participant copies of a 6-party role simulation, you would receive 5 copies of each role.

In the event that the number of participant copies you order is not evenly divisible by the number of roles in the simulation, you will receive extra copies of one or more roles. Participants receiving the extra roles may partner with other participants playing the same role, thus negotiating as a team. So, for instance, if you ordered 31 copies of a 2-party role simulation, you would receive 15 copies of the first role and 16 copies of the second role. One of the participants playing the second role would partner with another participant playing that same role, and the two would negotiate as a team.