What was it about La Vista that made this teacher training extra special……the guard behind the glass in the reception area telling me how much she wanted to come to the Saturday class and dance? Or was it the raw excitement of the women inmates who were returning as “helpers” to assist us in this teacher training….their big smiles and warm “hellos” when we arrived at the gym the first day of training….like we were all old friends re-connecting again. Maybe it was all the women trainees from “TC”, the Therapeutic Community division of the prison for the severe behavioral problems, a group which is self-contained, separate from the rest of the prison population and extremely restricted when it comes to privileges (the prison allowed them to attend our training and perform dance 2b free at a talent show).
I don’t know for sure, but there was some magic happening from the moment we arrived at La Vista and we could feel it throughout the weekend. We learned that many of the trainees had been dancing to dance 2b free DVDs for months before we arrived – it seemed like actually having us there in person was ice cream on a really yummy double fudge chocolate cake! In our sharing circles, I heard quotes like “I don’t dance, I’ve never danced in my life…..but when I did dance 2b free, it was like the dancing never ended. It frees me from everything…..” “When I dance, I think about other things besides my rage. In my room, I’m on the stress box and feel locked up like a dog.” “I didn’t die from being uncomfortable….” “It not that it’s not there [the dance], it’s just finding it, exposing it, and letting it flow out of us…” “The first time I met Lucy [on the DVD], I cried….you made me feel free…..” Watching the really shy women, those who wouldn’t share much at first and danced in the back row, move up to the front by the last day of training…watching them dance from the depths of their souls and shedding tears of gratitude in the closing circle……..
We know from these women that dance 2b free has made a big impact and released something in them that had been caged up, restrained, and that what we’re doing matters………
Alice Robbins, Board President