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make your day dance

Keeping the Faith — The Prison Project

May 9th, 2010 · 2 Comments · Tags: ····

Last night I saw this year’s final performance of “Keeping the Faith,” a stunning performance by 21 women using dance, spoken word & visual art to shed light on their lives and selves.  One of the most moving performances I’ve ever attended, it was well worth a 3-hour commute to the rural setting of Mission Creek Correctional Center for Women, where these women live just now.

Led by Artistic Director Pat Graney & a team of artists & volunteers, the performers worked for 3 months using Michael Jackson & his music as inspiration to dig in the soil of their own lives.  Unearthing the rocks of abuse & abandonment that brought them to incarceration, the program uses hope & the creative process to cultivate confidence, self-acceptance, patience & forgiveness in their place. The culminating performance is a fragile but beautiful blossom, not only for the performers but for the audience fortunate enough to witness the event.

Today is Mother’s Day, and it’s impossible to ignore the fact that most of these women are mothers. Some were abandoned by their own mothers.  All seem acutely aware of their absence from their own children’s lives. As they examine the events in their lives that brought them here, they express the hope that their futures will hold new patterns. As I listened & watched… as the performance plays in my mind today… I can’t help but wonder what we on the outside are doing to help them undo the effects of what was done to them as children & mothers, to help them be the mothers they want to be, to prevent their children from suffering in similar ways.

The voices of these mothers shed new perspective on the lives of one or two of my own students, living with relatives while their own mothers are struggling with addiction or serving time.

On what dance can do for them, if I can do it right…

And on the power of the arts — in both education & transformation.

Thanks to Pat & her team of artists. And to these women, for doing the heavy lifting!

2 Comments so far ↓

  • mary

    It is really heartening to see and hear about dance used in this way. Dance is something that is accessible to all of us. When we move the body we also move minds and souls. Thank you for continually shining light on the possibility of dance as a powerful source of healing.

  • Conor

    This sounds awesome! It’s fun to read about these things and I wish I could have gone with you!