Our mission is to radically improve the lives of incarcerated women through the healing power of dance. Through our Trauma Informed Dance Teacher Trainings, we use “Cathartic Choreography” combined with leadership skills – to empower our graduates to conduct peer to peer programming within the prison. Throughout this transformative experience, we teach the nuts and bolts of choreography, pro social skills and group dynamics.
Just as importantly, we facilitate therapeutic journaling that nurtures introspection and self-awareness that incarcerated women often need.
We have seen this technique help our students deal with physical and mental illness, including PTSD and complex trauma. Our trainings are impacting the lives of our students by changing the prison culture from punitive to restorative.
“Amazing work Lucy, our State is so proud of you and the national focus on your work is not only appropriate and wonderful for us -- but it will inspire people in other places.” Jared Polis
We Mail DVDs
We mail the interested prison a complimentary set of Dance To Be Free DVDs for the recreation department & inmates to review and experience for themselves.
If the DVDs generate interest, DTBF will schedule a live Teacher Training program for the prison.
We dance at the prison! Our Teacher Trainings are 3 days long (3-4 hours a day) and intended for ALL skill levels.
We launched our program at Denver Women's Correctional Facility in 2015. In 2016 we expanded to La Vista in Pueblo, CO. Dance To Be Free has completed 7 teacher-trainings in Pueblo's medium-security women's prison. Over 150 incarcerated women have completed our program. La Vista is demonstrating the fruits of our labor! After 4 years of continual trainings - they are sustaining the program themselves like no other facility. They are teaching us! 140 women show up every Friday night at 6p to take our graduate's classes. A sea of bright yellow t-shirts fill up the gym as friends and enemies dance alongside each other. It's pure magic!
Dance To Be Free has completed 7 teacher-trainings at The Nebraska Correctional Center for Women (NCCW). In May of 2018, DTBF was invited to speak at the first ever live streamed Tedx Talk (line HERE) out of a prison. We shared the stage with 7 women serving life sentences who not only inspired the audience but humanized an often stigmatized population! NCCW has been the most supportive and welcoming prison we have had the privilege of working with since 2016.
In 2017 we expanded into 3 women's prisons in Arkansas in their medium and maximum facilities. There is little to no programming in these rural facilities due to their remote locations. We have maintained our programming due to a large amount of graduates sustaining the classes and local support with our Little Rock Community. We are returning in 2019 to offer additional teacher trainings along with reinforcing the work we did with our original trainees.
In 2018, DTBF expanded into 2 facilities in Hawaii, the maximum women's prison on Oahu and the jail on Maui. We were given permission to film at both facilities during 3 teacher trainings. Hawaii is another world and in need of programming. Please check out our footage HERE
In May of 2018 DTBF expanded to Mississippi's minimum security women's prison in Flowood where we certified 22 women as dance teachers. In September of 2018 we expanded to the max facility where we certified 24 women and were given the chance to film our training! In March of 2019 we returned to the max facility to train an additional 25 women who are now dancing with the general population 4 times a week - 85 at a time!
Lowell Correctional Institution located in Ocala, Florida was our 13th prison and 8th state. Lowell is the largest women's prison in the U.S. housing 3k women. We had an incredible group of 24 eager and ready students! We are now on our third training as of June of 2019. Since Lowell is so huge they have every type of incarceration - from youth offenders to death row. We are collaborating with Florida State University on researching the benefits of our program.
At the Central Virginia Correctional Unit #13, we worked with a dozen women in a minimum security/work release facility in Chesterfield, VA. We had the privilege of being filmed by Freethink based out of Washington, DC (Video HERE)
In May of 2019 we offered our first teacher training in TN to a dozen women who were eager to dance, express, share and move. Like our other remote locations, Bledsoe has little volunteer support due to the distance to Knoxville or nearby cities. We hope to return in late 2019!
We are now running our trainings in North Carolina, the 10th state DTBF has reached. In early January 2020, and simultaneously while Lucy and Chloe were training women in South Dakota, we trained and graduated twenty more women at Swannanoa Women’s Correctional Center in Black Mountain, NC, Dance To Be Free's 16th prison. We are also in contact with the women’s prison and a county jail in Charlotte, with high hopes to keep expanding here.
We offered a teacher training in Pierre, South Dakota in January 2020. The women’s prison in Pierre houses a population of 55% Native American women while Native Americans make up 10% of SD’s population.
It costs $6k to fund one full Teacher Training.
Your $6,000 donation will provide a full 3-day training program benefitting approximately 25 women. Program costs include three days of cathartic dance instruction, group work, and therapeutic journal facilitation by DTBF professional instructors and facilitators, program and journal packets for each participant, and a set of training DVD’s (left with the prison as a resource to continue the program), and operational costs.
A contribution of $500 certifies one inmate to become a dance teacher as they complete their sentence. This skill can be used while they are still serving time or when they exit the prison system. Some inmates serving life sentences have the option of teaching their fellow inmates dance. Job skills after prison reduce recidivism and increase self-esteem.