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Cat Dancers

4.8 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Unlike anything else you ve seen, CAT DANCERS is the mesmerizing and haunting tale of the husband-and-wife team who first engaged the world in the art and tragedy of exotic cat entertainment. This strikingly candid film lays bare the circus-like lives of Ron and Joy Holiday, childhood friends who improbably pirouetted from dazzling careers as world-renowned adagio ballet dancers to performing with an incredible, if dangerous, cast of lions, tigers, and jaguars.
A remarkable glimpse at the uncanny connection between animals and humans, this stranger-than-fiction documentary also touches on some very human passions. Marriage takes on a new twist when the youthful, charismatic Chuck Lizza joins the Holidays as a performer. The introduction of Jupiter, a rare white Bengal tiger, to the act turns out to be a fatal mistake.
Skillfully directed by Harris Fishman with a moody score by String Theory and the very personal narration of Ron Holiday, CAT DANCERS includes unadulterated joy and unspeakable loss, as well as hauntingly bewitching footage of the felines both on and off stage, resulting in a provocative and intoxicating walk on the wild side that you won't soon forget.

DVD features: Deleted Scenes; Interviews With Exotic Cat Experts; Filmmaker Biography

Amazon.com

Director Harris Fishman has made a documentary that is equally sweet and strange. Cat Dancers is at once a charming love story about bonds developed between three humans--Ron and Joy Holiday, and Chuck Lizza--and their dedication to the big cats they raised and trained for over 40 years before the whole enterprise screeched to a halt. The Holiday legacy is recounted through lengthy interviews with Ron Holiday, the sole survivor from the Cat Dancers Ranch, which was started after he and his wife danced their way to adagio ballet fame in New York and relocated to begin phase two of their entertainment career, with exotic cats. Gifted a black panther cub from cat aficionado William Holden, the couple embarked on a journey in which they often crossed paths with Siegfried and Roy, another famous cat duo. Like their competitors, however, the Holidays confronted the untamable aspects of wild animals when they adopted Jupiter, an inbred white Bengal tiger. Cat Dancers succeeds because of the riveting story Ron Holiday tells, but also because the film consists largely of vintage footage of their performances and life on the ranch. Moreover, when Lizza enters the picture, steamy erotic undertones color an already eccentric scene as one completely liberated. In the end, though Ron Holiday suffers permanently from the traumas he has witnessed, a sense of sexual revolution commingles with an undying support of animal welfare, which makes for an ultimately inspiring, but gruesome, story. --Trinie Dalton

Product Details

  • Actors: Ron Holiday, Joy Holiday
  • Directors: Harris Fishman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: February 24, 2009
  • Run Time: 75 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001LQAZ3Y
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,839 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Cat Dancers" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This is a disturbing look into the lives of 3 traveling exhibitionists who dance with and do tricks with large cats. Ron and Joy bring in another player, who they both fall deeply in love with. Chuck seems to be the crux of the matter, the hinge point upon which the balance of their world goes awry. Ron recounts this sad tale. He is a strange man in appearance, mannerisims, and in the way he assigns importance or weight to certain aspects of the narrative. At times I'm not sure I believe what he is saying at all; some of it is simply too bizarre. But, I don't think Ron is trying to deceive, but only that he is shell shocked and has beaten down by life to near insanity. He is a kind and loving man, of that there is not doubt. I would also say that both Joy and Ron do seem to know these cats, as well as one can. The moments where Joy discusses what is going in in these animals heads are pretty amazing. I wonder if their obsession with Chuck took off the edge, created a bit of slack in their situational awareness. It seems to have lead to their aquisition of Jupiter, to disasterous result. Nearly everything about these people is a head scratcher. Love triangles, tiger maulings, wigs, tight fitting costumes...it's a strange recipe. But, that's how they chose to spend their nickle, and it made them happy, which probably is all that matters.
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I had a vague recollection of this incidents depicted in this film, and I was reminded of it after a recent airing of the "Fatal Attractions" series on Animal Planet. That episode was so strange, I decided to google the individuals involved to see if I could find out more. I found this movie.

Wow. This is a fascinating story about three people with very out of the ordinary lives. Not something for the mainstream, but if you are like me and prefer to watch docs about obscure or odd places or people, this one's for you!
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This tale is such a strange one, and one I knew nothing about prior to watching this film. Seeing this man, Ron, so broken and just a shell of his former self was almost unbearable at times. This is someone who lived their perfect dream and did exactly what he had wanted to do since he was a child. He was surrounded by his animals, that he loved as his children, and the two people on this earth he loved most and life was good. His career was his life and his life was his career, so when one came crashing down, so did the other. This is a success story, a story of extraordinary circumstances, one of love and tremendous loss. My soul feels for this man and I do hope that he gets his wish and sees 80 and the tigers of Thailand.
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Format: DVD
You've heard of 'Siegfried & Roy' but that's nothing compared to all this. Wait until you hear this...
This is the story about how the best intentions can go so so wrong. How the purest love can turn into the darkest of horrors and how love can live on and still shine brightly for everyone else to see, even if everything appears to be blood red for a while.
When they received their first big cat from a Hollywood celebrity, they had no clue what to do with it so they treated it like a child. Instead of getting an education (which they eventually did), they added the animal to their act, got more famous and then just kept adding more animals, poorly trained (at first), to their act. Money was made, they lived very large and the price they paid was so dear, so tragic, so unbelievable, it made me feel so sad.
They made tons of mistakes, assigning the animals human emotions, treating the cats like children (including holding grudges against them), and basically doing all the same things that we all do with our pets. Except their pets happened to be 300-pound tigers.
In the end, I really loved Ron Holiday and I wanted to give him a hug and tell him time heals. He suffered a lot and had an unconquerable spirit. I hope he does make it to the Tiger Temple in Thailand. From this documentary, I took his spirit and attitude. He made me see that the human heart can endure massive pain and still come through like a champion, inspiring others. I think that is truly what this documentary is about. Sorry if that sounds hopelessly lame. But for me, that's what it was about.
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I do recommend this movie. This is A REAL LIFE story. I watched it last night. I've read all the comments here and also read comments posted elsewhere in movie reviews for newspapers, etc. I won't comment more about the movie itself; folks here have covered it, and you can read elsewhere, too. I also will not comment about the movie reviews - that is for critics.

I will, however, comment about the personal commentary folks have made about Ron and Joy and Chuck. It is very disconcerting to read some of these. Judgments without firsthand knowledge or even just facts. I knew Ron and Joy, before Chuck was part of the act/family, when they worked summers on MDI, in Maine, in the early 1980s. My sister knew them more than I did, since she was actually still working at the animal park where I'd worked and at which they performed.

From my personal experience and from my sister's narrative of her work days at the park back then, they were totally committed to their animals and were gentle people,easy to be around and to hold conversation with, especially when talking about their cats. They were not 'on stage' unless they were actually performing. Never were they concerned about 'being seen', they were outwardly focused and focused on the 'now', during my conversations with them. Rugged and real and passionate, is how I'd describe them, looking back 30 years.

All their felines were their family members, not just 'treated like'. Just like my dogs and cats are to me and my family. I've worked with or around wild animals and domestic animals, large and small. Small, domestic animals - dogs and cats - most people can handle safely. Working with large, domestic or small, wild ones can result in injury or death - even to trained people. I've seen enough close calls.
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