Dance To Be Free’s mission is to radically improve the lives of incarcerated women by addressing lifelong trauma through the healing power of dance. DTBF’s purpose is to reduce women’s prison recidivism rates, empower women inmates, change prison culture and support reentry.
What began as a weekly dance class in Denver Women's Correctional Center in 2016, has grown into a multi-day teacher training present in 17 prison across the US. We have certified over 500 women as DTBF Leaders. DTBF’s Trauma Informed Dance Teacher Training trains incarcerated women to lead dance classes for other residents. A 3-day 12-hour on-site training teaches women skills to lead dance classes and, more importantly, calls on the healing power of dance to address trauma that incarcerated women face. Through emotionally directed choreography, group and individual activities, journaling and group discussion, women can deepen self-awareness, introspection and connection. We teach the women how to dance and then we teach them to teach each other to dance.
The program supports self-regulation, self awareness, responsibility, social skills, leadership, self confidence, creating healthy group dynamics and healing unaddressed trauma.
As a result of the DTBF training, a sense of accomplishment flourishes, women gain confidence as they experience leadership and responsibility, often for the first time in their lives. Leaders learn to express themselves through dance,and to provide a program that frees others to do the same. One participant said, “I learned that I don’t have to be free while incarcerated, I can be free in my mind. I am able to take the message you share with us into our dorm...the happiness you share with us…..and share it with them and they become happy too.” This training has an impact on the lives of participants and the prison culture by creating a space for transformation through a restorative experience.
Funded by Awesome Without Borders (December 2021)