One of the most dramatic stories I’ve heard since DTBF started with Cindy’s. She was from a Midwest city, was educated and warm. I think she just honestly snapped in a way that maybe a lot of us could with a newborn. But that line was crossed for Cindy in the most permanent way.

Blog from September, 2017

During one of my first teacher trainings I learned that one of our students killed a baby she had nannied and would not be getting out of prison until 2048.

When I started dancing in Denver two years ago, I told myself that all of the women I was meeting and dancing with were in prison for drug distribution/possession, theft, non-violent drug crimes – maybe assault. I was shocked to find out that, especially in maximum security women’s prisons, I was wrong.

During that teacher-training where I danced with this woman with a 2048 release date, I dreamt I met the parents of the baby that had died. I had been feeling guilty for making her life better when she had caused them so much pain. I was submerged in a pool (the symbol of water was not lost on me) talking with the baby’s parents. I don’t recall any words being exchanged – but more of a feeling of wordless, forgiveness, compassion.

Dancing with women in prison has blown my mind and heart wide open. The reality of a 2048 release date, exposed toilets and restricted housing —  or as one woman said, “When I arrived in prison I slept through the night for the first time since I was 13 years old” – I have no reference points.

2018 Interview

Cindy: So, I got certified with DTBF in July of ’16 when Lucy came and since then every time that she has come back, me and a few of the other girls that got certified the first time have sat in and helped with the classes.

And so she, it’s been a year since she’s been here and at first when she left I was really into it, but then maybe five or six months after she left I got down and sad and depressed or however you want to say that and I kinda fell off a little bit. So now I am in the process of like pulling myself out of that hole and using Dance To Be Free as one of the tools to help me get out of it, so…

Jen: That’s awesome. Um, was, did… was that internally motivated or did you have peers that…

Cindy: Okay so I guess for me, the push to get there was… part of it was our Rec. coordinator, because sometimes I just go in there and vent to her and always end up crying. And she’s like, ‘Well, you need to get back on it,’ you know. And also just my friends and people here that support me.

Or, like I have an MP4 player with some of the music to the songs and sometimes I’ll just walk to clear my head and those songs will come on and it like sparks something in me to like you know to like get there. And then, so um I just decided that I need to be present and not like an outsider in my own life and part of that is like putting myself back in there, so.

Jen: Could you describe um, some of the emotions or… the difference of when you’re dancing and not.

Cindy: Well so um, it’s coming so for me, I get stuck in … sorry. Um, in my sentence or my circumstances and when I get there, I get really emotional and touchy and I have to like pull back a little bit, I feel like to protect myself, to like, put up those walls so I can survive. You know?

And it’s only when people that care about me tell me that I am going to that numb place that see that change in me to where I am like distant and vacant in my own, you know, in my own body that I have to like see it for what’s happening. And so then, when I step back into this into this Dance To Be Free it pulls all of that out of me even without me knowing, which is almost even better because if I think about it too much, I’ll stop myself. So, like the dancing process does it without me knowing and then it forces me to deal with it instead of stuffing it.