We just returned from our second training in Pearl, MS where we danced with 30 women. Women whose stories are beyond my sheltered life. Women who robbed because they were hungry and abandoned. Women who were molested and raped. Women who made terrible decisions due to their pain. I may never know where their resilience comes from but it shows up in the Dance.

When Roqci (pictured below) was 14, her mother died and no one checked on her and her younger sister – so she robbed. She went to prison at 20 years old, for 20 years for stealing $150 and armed robbery. She said, “I’m always lonely. But in DTBF I’m not alone. Dancing gives me comfort, confidence, company and release. When life didn’t care, Dancing cared…Dancing is the tears I can’t cry and the words I can’t say.”

During our second day, conflict inevitably erupted. I’ve noticed a pattern they talk about in group therapy around how a group goes through “forming, norming and storming” and I’ve seen the “storming” on day 2 almost consistently. When the group starts to choreograph in pods of 5 or so there is generally a stuck moment where the choreography stalls.

In this particular training a woman named Leah (pictured behind me here) said to Merlin, a woman in another pod, “I don’t like your move…I just don’t!” Her body language was tough and intimidating. The other woman said, “Shut the F*CK UP!”

With the mic in my hand, I tried to intervene by telling Leah that her delivery was rough and to notice how it landed. “I don’t sugar coat!” she said back at me. And, then I said the most Boulder type phrase – I don’t know how they didn’t eat me alive: “This is a hard planet to be on…”

Looking back I think I must have utterly confused them. Whatever. It seemed to work because by the end in our seated closing circle, Leah, on her own volition apologized to the group. The group heard her apology. Merlin then helped her get up from the floor and they hugged.

Phew. As Rocqi said, “Dancing is the tears I can’t cry and the words I can’t say.”

 

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