Saving the Last Dance Mediation through Understanding


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

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


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.


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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: Yes
Produced by: Program on Negotiation & Center for Mediation in Law
Run Time: 51 minutes