The former artistic director of Avodah Dance, Joann Tucker, recently published an article about her work in correctional facilities!"I offer an exploration of my experiences through two different models for those who might also be interested in participating in their communities in this way. The rewards are rich in collaborations and connections through exploration, building, and rebuilding."If you'd like to know more, click on this link and contact avodah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On October 24, 2015 Melissa Brading performed her piece Picket Fence, she states:
"I made this after working with the women at Bedford Hills prison with Avodah Dance. A story was told to me about a woman there and how cheerful she had remained despite her circumstances. I was told the first day she got there, she made a little white fence with tape around her cell. So, I started with that idea. It took me hours upon hours to figure out the configuration of the dominoes, obviously, I knocked them down over and over again to set them back up. It was frustrating and my cat, Deborah, knocked them down too after I got them just the way I wanted them. But it made me think of the women. It also was a good exercise for me as a performer. If I knocked something down, it would pretty much ruin the piece. And I had to be willing to accept that. And I had to deal with the fact that it takes me 30 minutes to set up a piece that lasts only 4 minutes. But every time I did this piece or thought about it, explained why I was dragging around a bag of dominoes and a yardstick, it made me think of the women.
Some of them will never get out before turning 80, but they keep moving big, encouraging others and rebuild all they can. I can't ignore the very real fact they are in prison, and I can't remove those walls. But the invisible walls, those we can work with. We can make a real effort to let them know they are seen and to make it more possible for others to see them as well. "
Avodah Dance performed at the Sheen Center on Wednesday, September 23rd
Companies from four different traditions shared the Sheen’s main stage: Avodah Dance; Sakshi, the neoclassical Odissi (Indian) dance group; the Trinity Movement Choir from Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church, and Omega Dance Company, coming to the end of its 40th Anniversary season as one of New York’s most acclaimed sacred dance troupes.
Julie Gayer Kris taught a Moonlight Yoga class with Elad Kabilio on May 23rd at Into The Night: Tikkun Leil Shavuot at the 14th St Y. The event provided a nocturnal journey through culture, conversation, ritual and cheesecake featuring artists, musicians, teachers and rabbis.
Last Saturday’s Holiday Event at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility with Hour Children was so sweet! We are honored to have been there to provide entertainment for the kids, their parents and guardians. Newman’s drum circle and our in-prompt to dance circle where kids made a dance and free-styled was SO MUCH FUN!
Other activities that day included bracelet making, weaving and silhouette art, origami, paper instruments; food and family time with boardgames and more!
Love Hour Children and the work they do. Click here for more info on their programs at Bedford Hills.
We are so very honored to be conducting another workshop for the women and their kids during their holiday party at Bedford Hills Correctional, NY. We are so grateful to Hour Children for inviting us back this year. Helping incarcerated mothers, helps their children and our own communities. The annual event features holiday music and cheer, generous gift giving supported by the local community of Bedford Hills, food and family bonding. Learn more and support Hour Children and the mothers and children they serve this holiday! Check out their community programs here.
Bedford Hills is also known for having a successful early childhood program, where mothers are allowed to spend a year with their child after birth during incarceration. The drop in recidivism is proof of the success, along side other programs that focus on mother/family/child relationship like Hour Children. Here is a pretty good article that talks about their early childhood program and, like everything, it’s a struggle to keep it up. A positive light to the darkness of prison:
Avodah Dance attended and facilitated a workshop a Rutgers University. Marking Time: Prison Arts and Activism Conference, is a conference dedicated to hosting artists and activists around the country who focus on prison reform. Julie Gayer Kris and Meredith-Lyn Avey facilitated the workshop, representing Avodah and attending the multitude of events and panel discussions all coordinated by Rutgers’ Institute for Research on Women. For more info check this out: http://irw.rutgers.edu/
On June 23rd we began our our 3rd residency at Bedford Hills Women’s Correctional Institution and are pleased to say that the week long workshop was an absolute success – and here is why:
As usual we are reminded about the remarkable creativity that can still exist behind cement walls, iron gates and thickets of barbed wire fences. Yet this visit was something extraordinary in the sense that we were deeply humbled by the genuine trust and enthusiasm expressed by the women participants from the very start to the very end. Like every residency, we continue to learn about ourselves just as much, and are reminded on just how privileged we are to be able to provide creative spaces in the most obscure environments. We are so grateful to be a part of this force. Thank you Bedford Hills WCI, the women who’ve participated and enlightened us, and all the staff there who believe in the power of the arts and the power of human connectivity.
Thank you to all of our supporters who helped us get there! You helped in giving the women a weeks worth of access to their own creativity – but a life-long experience over all!
Next up – collecting all of our findings and presenting them to the public! Be on the look out for our next chapter of moving voices inside out.
Telling stories and communicating through movement is what we are known for, and what we do best. We love communicating this way with others, and you don’t have to be a dancer to participate. Dance is inside every one of us as it is part of our human fabric. To share such a human quality (especially on a holiday in this case) is vital to our community.
Thanks to all who have participated in our movement workshop and for watching our latest piece, Rewrite. We hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we did and look forward to conducting more participatory workshops with you.
Exciting news for Avodah member Leave Ives! Leah has been with Avodah Dance since 2008, where she has co-facilitated workshops and residencies, performed and choreographed new work for audiences in and around NYC. We are so proud to announce that she will be joining the Trisha Brown Dance Company this summer.
Life as a dancer is not easy to say the least! Leah worked hard through a two week long audition process to finally land the job. However, Leah is living proof, that with hard work and perseverance accomplishments will be made!
Last summer writer, Helen Zelon published an article about Avodah and the work that we do! She interviewed us and came to a few of our rehearsals. Her article depicts the various aspects of what we work towards and are involved in. As we prepare for another summer residency we are reminded by her article of just how important our work is. Thank you Helen, and to those who support the arts in places that are thought as uncommon.
Check out the full article here: From Dancing Barres to Prison Bars, Avodah Makes Its Mark