This week, I read an inspiring article in The New York Times about a dance program in California prisons. This news, written by the dance critic Brian Seibert, who for over three years interviewed its participants and attended classes at the Chino and Lancaster (California), focused on the origin and development of this initiative. A project born out of the interest of two imprisoned people who decided to draft a proposal from jail to ask for dance classes as a mode of rehabilitation.
And the truth is that while I read the article, I was thinking about projects of social integration through artistic means in penitentiary environments I know, and about how many of them use dance as language (instead of music, theater, literature, or visual arts). Because as Seibert mentioned, dance is not so habitual in that context.
If one begins searching information about dance projects as activism, many initiatives appear where dance and choreography function as a tool for social, individual, and collective change. At times, these projects are born out of university projects, at others, from foundations or small or great companies, and all of them value what it means to work with the body and with movement, with confidence and self-esteem, in educational environments as well as in places as complex as prisons.
Currently, there are many studies that make clear the positive impact of teaching and the practice of artistic tools in different contexts, but for some reason, we continue to not integrate them in our educational and social systems, when, in these times in which we live, it has been demonstrated they are more needed than ever.