Patrycja has created a Denver chapter of Dances for Solidarity. A project connecting with incarcerated people in solitary confinement through letter writing and dance. DFS-Denver is modeled off of DFS out of New York.
From the six by nine foot cell, smaller than the average parking space, where he is confined 22 to 24 hours a day, A.H. writes, “I would add a scream. A soul-searching, gut-wrenching, and purifying cry.” The letter’s stamp reads, “Forever USA,” where, according to the Prison Policy Institute, approximately 1 in 100 adults are incarcerated.
The scream is an addition to the list of movements that my pen pal received from Dances for Solidarity-Denver. I host meetings for the local chapter of Dances for Solidarity, a national initiative sharing dance through letter writing with people in solitary confinement. The written list, which begins by inviting the recipient to close their eyes, is comprised of a ten-step movement sequence open to interpretation. The collaborative project invites pen pals to expand upon, and share their reactions to, the dance list. A.H. writes that, after the scream he adds between steps 9 and 10, “The entire unit goes silent.” Read More….
- Thanks to recent donations, we were able to send Flikshop postcards with photos out to many of our pen pals (Flikshop is an app that allows families & friends to send photos & messages from their phones to prison).
- We are going to ramp up fundraising efforts; be on the look out for two fundraising events if you’re in Colorado, at least one of which will involve dancing.:) We plan to raise money for ongoing needs (basics like stamps & envelopes), as well as for our spring 2018 performance project, for which we are committed to paying our collaborators including artists on the inside. We intend to involve & pay some formerly incarcerated artists in the Denver area. Stay tuned! And please contact me if you are interested in helping to make this happen!
- Our first exciting step in this regard, re: $upporting or penpals, was to pay Patrice a small thank-you for his generosity in giving us permission to share and use any of his writings for any purpose. THANK YOU SO MUCH TO THE PEOPLE WHO DONATED TO MAKE THIS POSSIBLE!! DFS-Denver uses Patrice’s writings to promote our project, and the least we can do is get money to his commissary account. I have attached one of Patrice’s poems here. Feel free to share any reactions so we can pass them on to Patrice.:) You can also check out our FB page for excerpts of writings from pen pals.
- Please follow us on our FB page, invite friends to like our page, and like our posts! It sounds trivial, but this helps us boost visibility. Consider bringing a friend to the next meeting. 🙂 We hope to bring on more letter writers so we can reach more people in solitary.
- If you are interested in being a part of the performance project efforts, get in touch with me.
- If you know anyone who might be willing to fiscally support our efforts, please share our DFS-Denver Fractured Atlas page, where folks can make tax-deductible donations. A breakdown/ some language re how $ helps us out:
a $1 donation = 1 flikshop postcard with a photo to a pen pal!:)
$10 = a booklet of 20 stamps
$16 = 20 Flikshop postcards to pen pals
$20 = a huge box of envelopes
$100 = cards for our next holiday cards to solitary event
$500+= getting closer to our dream of collaborating with our penpals on a performance project & paying currently and formerly incarcerated artists for their contributions
$1 helps. thank you.
we hope to see you at the next letter writing meeting.
- Sarah Dahnke, who started the project, is in New Orleans right now where DFS has a show– literally right this very moment!– with choreography by pen pals on the inside performed by women who have experienced incarceration. If you have friends in New Orleans, they can also see the show tomorrow. A note: DFS is committed to paying artists and collaborators, including our pen pals on the inside, for their work; we look forward to raising more funds to making this happen on the Denver chapter side.:)
- Sarah D & I Skyped into Laurel Butler’s Arts in Corrections class at UCLA; students tried out movement from the inside, including Dushaan (one of the NY pen pals in solitary)’s choreography, and sent pen pals few letters. We hope an LA chapter will be springing up this year…! The more chapters, the more folks we can connect with in solitary confinement.
- In June, DFS will be Skyping into Janice Ross’ class on Dance & Prisons at Stanford, and hope to engage students in the project there in a meaningful way– we hope we’ll be able to get a Stanford chapter going as well…