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Undanced Dances Through Prison Walls During a Pandemic

April 16, 2021 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm


A virtual event centering 6 dances written inside Norco Prison, a 40-minute dance film, 11 artists conversing on dancing in carceral spaces (7 choreographic interpreters, 4 formerly incarcerated narrators)

Produced by Dancing Through Prison Walls and 18th Street Arts Center
(Spanish translation available)

In 2016, choreographer and educator, Suchi Branfman, began a five-year choreographic residency inside the California Rehabilitation Center, a medium-security state men’s prison in Norco, California. The project, dubbed Dancing Through Prison Walls, developed into a critical dialogue about freedom, confinement, and ways for surviving restriction, limitations, and denial of liberty through the act of dancing. 

It is an honor to dance these works into the “free” world. Highlighting six of the dances written/choreographed inside the prison by Brandon Alexander, Richie Martinez, Landon Reynolds and Terry Sakamoto Jr., this event includes a film of the written work transformed into embodied dances in sites throughout the Santa Monica civic center area, drawing focus to the nation’s school to prison nexus (Meiners, 2007), followed by a conversation with the eleven artists involved. 

With artistic direction by Suchi Branfman and cinematography by Tom Tsai, the dances are narrated by Marc Antoni Charcas, Ernst Fenelon Jr., Richie Martinez and Romarilyn Ralston (formerly incarcerated movers and organizers) and choreographically interpreted by a group of brilliant choreographers: Bernard Brown, Jay Carlon, Irvin Gonzalez, Kenji Igus, Brianna Mims and Tom Tsai (all of whom have joined Branfman dancing inside the Norco prison). Each team was entrusted with bringing one of the written dances to action. Between them, they are steeped in hip hop, tap, breaking, performance art, quebradita, spoken word, Butoh and contemporary dance forms. Released from prison during the summer of 2020, Richie Martinez joins the cast as he narrates and performs in “Richie’s Disappearing Acts” which he wrote while incarcerated at the Norco prison during the pandemic. 

In December 2020, Undanced Dances Through Prison Walls During a Pandemic was published by the inimitable Sming Sming Books. Benefiting the authors, Critical Resistance and California Coalition for Women Prisoners,  the 2nd edition of the sold out book is forthcoming.

This project was made possible by Art of Recovery, an initiative of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs, santamonica.gov/arts/artofrecovery. @Cityof SantaMonica



April 16, 2021
6:30 pm - 7:30 pm


Dancing Through Prison Walls