- Essential Facts and Interesting Tidbits
- Past press coverage links
- Contact person for more info and/or to schedule interviews.
Dance To Be Free’s mission is to share the healing power of dance with women in prison nationwide.
Lucy Wallace and Gayle Nosal co-founded Dance To Be Free (DTBF) in the Spring of 2015. Together they designed and implemented the DTBF program for hundreds of women in prison in Colorado, Nebraska, Washington, Arkansas, and beyond! Their grassroots, hands-on experience with women inmates gives them unique insight into rehabilitative programming for women offenders.
Dance To Be Free’s Board of Directors supports this initiative with legal and business expertise while our local community provides tremendous in-kind support.
Dance To Be Free uses dance with women in prison to address needs for movement/fitness, trauma recovery, leadership, and community building. Through our teacher-training curriculum, DTBF also provides women with healthy lifestyle choices and tangible skills while they remain in prison and when they re-enter their communities.
Dance To Be Free is teaching inmates how to become dance teachers as they complete their sentences and move back into their communities after being released. Our first Teacher-Training was at Denver Women’s Correctional Facility in 2015. We expanded into Pueblo in June, 2016 and York, NE in July 2016. In 2017 we are taking D2BF even further in 2017 – to Washington State and four prisons in Arkansas!
As of January 2017 we have taught 63 inmates how to hold space, connect, inspire, choreograph and lead a DTBF class. The goal is to have the inmates sustain the program, offering each other classes during the week when DTBF is not present. If they are going to be released in the near future, they will leave prison with a tangible skill to bring back to their community.
Lucy Wallace, Co-Founder
In 2007 Lucy Wallace, MA started teaching dance at Alchemy of Movement (AOM) in Boulder, CO. In 2010, she bought AOM, after receiving her master’s degree in Psychology. Her Psychological background led to the birth of Dance To Be Free due to the therapeutic and cathartic quality of her teaching style.
Together with the DTBF Board of Directors, Lucy has been sharing her love of dance with women in prison across the nation.
Essential Facts & Interesting Tidbits
Recidivism is a core criminal justice concern. The Bureau of Justice Statistics states: “Nationally, 30% of adult offenders released from state prisons are re-arrested within the first six months of their release. Within three years of their release, 67% of ex-offenders return to prison.”
Employment and community engagement are critical factors determining long-term success of released inmates. We aim to reduce the high rate of recidivism by addressing the root cause of why a recently released inmate would return to prison: unaddressed PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder).
“57.2% of females report abuse before admission to state prisons versus 16.1% of males.” -Bureau of Justice statistics, US Dept. of Justice
Dancing is seen as a reparative experience that directly contradicts the terror, helplessness and invisibility of trauma to enable survivors to reclaim ownership of their bodies and their lives. -Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD
This quote sums up the mission of Dance 2B Free – “We have already seen and heard from the inmates at DWCF about how their social interactions have shifted since dancing together. In our recent study, we found that synchronizing with others while dancing raised pain tolerance. It also encouraged people to feel closer to others.” Bronwyn Tarr
Article in Fortune Magazine, “This Is Why Women Are the Fastest-Growing Prison Population” http://fortune.com/2015/12/10/prison-reform-women/
“6 in 10 women are in federal prison for nonviolent drug crimes. For every woman who has committed murder, there are 99 drug offenders.” – Amos Irwin Chief of Staf at the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation
PTSD increases risk of criminal recidivism among justice-involved person with mental disorders. –Criminal Justice and Behavior 2014
“Prison was the worst time of my life but with Dance 2B Free I found purpose and my worth.” – Cassie & Tiffany
“As the former Warden at DWCF, seeing this program bring tears of joy. Thank you Lucy and Gayle!” Dona Zavislan
“Everyone had so much fun and loved Lucy and Gayle! Whoever sees this and and is a Warden at a Women’s facility needs to contact these ladies. They change lives!” Denis Skrobecki, Warden at NCCW
When I dance I’m saying: “I’m sorry. Here I am. This is who I am. Take me for who I am.” Michale, NCCW
When I dance I’m saying: “See me. I’m a free bird. My crime doesn’t define me. I’m a beautiful person, get to know me. This is the best thing that has happened to me during my incarceration.: Justeen, NCCW
When I dance I’m saying: “I’m not limited by my circumstances. I’m saying that I matter – and you matter and no one can take that from us! I dance to learn to love myself and to let others in enough to love me also!” Sarah, NCCW
When I dance I’m saying: “I am proud of who I have grown to be. I am proud of my struggle. I am proud of where I have come from. I am excited about where I’m going. I am proud to be me.” Miranda, NCCW
When I dance I’m saying: “That I’ve experienced pain and hurt and now have a special bounce back. Dancing makes me feel free to not feel pain or hurt – just accept that I can BE through it.” Claudia, NCCW
“I am less stressed out and anxious.”
“I feel freer and better all around.”
“I don’t feel like I’m in prison for an hour on a Sunday, and I love that. I love the normalcy of that …. you don’t feel so alone.” C. Hardy
“I am more understanding an compassionate.”
Past Press Coverage
By Winnie Wright , KTHV, 7/27/2017
“Behind bars isn’t a place you expect to see many smiles. It’s a sedentary life style with a clock on your back, counting down the hours until time served.
To pass the time and work through some of their pain and anger, the women of Wrightsville have turned to dance. Now they smile.”
By JoAnne Young, Lincoln Journal Star, 7/26/2016
“They found their freedom in prison-issue grey T-shirts and shorts, white socks and tennis shoes.
They learned to move in unison, mentally dance themselves outside the locked gates, liberate their better selves.”
Boulder dance program offers women in prison a taste of ‘freedom’
By Aimee Heckel, Boulder Daily Camera, 11/29/2015.
“This is what max security looks like.
Through a metal detector into a locked holding area, into an outdoor holding area lined with barbed wire hoops.”