Spring 2015 Fellow
Fellow: Sarah Dahnke
Project: Dances for Solidarity
About Dances for Solidarity
With Dances for Solidarity, Sarah has choreographed a list of simple movement gestures, which are open to interpretation. In letter writing clinics, she and other participants mail this list, along with a short letter, to incarcerated people in solitary confinement, letting them know that there are others in similar situations who are also participating in this project. The incarcerated people are invited to perform these gestures in sequence, as many times as they like, when they are feeling anxious, stressed, angry, or need an outlet for boredom or an activity. There is solidarity in knowing that there may be another incarcerated person in solitary confinement--or someone on the outside--doing the same dance at the same time.
Dances for Solidarity also has ongoing opportunities for live engagement outside the prison system, including events where attendees are invited to dance in solidarity with those who are incarcerated, and a website that allows users to announce how many times they have danced in solidarity each day. While this project aims to raise awareness around the inhumane conditions inside of our nation’s prison system, it is also an ephemeral, abstract performance piece about creating a sensation of existence for those who have been placed out of sight and out of mind.
Check out the Dances for Solidarity webpage http://dancesforsolidarity.org/
Have you done the dance today?
Letters And Artwork from collaborators
News & Updates
Dance Performances in Artifacts and After Effects
The performances that occurred strictly utilized choreography created by prisoners in solitary confinement, along with the original movement sequence mailed to them. It was not an attempt to recreate the experience of being in solitary or being incarcerated, but an exercise in having professional dancers interpret this text-based choreography, calling upon their training to give full expression to the movement. Much of the suggested choreography was confined in some way, and much of it utilized vertical space through jumping or lying down. José described the jumps he added to sequences: “Prison cells confine us to scripted movement i.e. walking, sitting or standing. Jumping…break[s] the ‘mold’ of being a prisoner. It’s a socially rebellious act in one’s own solitary cell."
Check out the Dance for Solidarity online publication, beautifully illustrated by Caits Meissner.
Starting a Dances for Solidarity Satellite group
If you'd like to set up Dances for Solidarity in your own city, download this starter kit and e-mail Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
The first Dances for Solidarity satellite group has formed in Denver. Check out their Facebook page here.
Sarah Dahnke is a Brooklyn-based choreographer, multimedia artist, and arts educator. She creates performance experiences that often feature non-performers, highlighting and celebrating the nuances of natural, untrained human movement. Under the name Round Tuit Dance Project, her choreography for stage and video has been showcased nationwide at venues such as Dance Theater Workshop, The Kitchen, CPR-Center for Performance Research, 319 Scholes, DUO Multicultural Arts Center, Milkbar, Hyde Park Arts Center, Ruth Page Center for the Arts, Gowanus Ballroom, and Grace Exhibition Space.