Outreach & Inform

Dance in prison: 

One of our most profound collaborations has been with women in prison. Since 2002, Avodah has led annual week-long residencies and workshops in women’s correctional institutions in Connecticut, Delaware, and New York. During the residencies, Avodah staff teaches basic modern dance technique, choreography and improvisation, while offering an outlet for creative expression through class processes and performances. During these residencies, Avodah Dance also utilizes live percussion and rhythms, providing participants with an explorative opportunity to collaborate with our resident professional musician and his variety of world instruments.

A typical residency culminates in a final performance that features the women participants and Avodah dancers dancing and performing together for audiences that include the prison’s education department (students, teachers, and administrators), guards, prison staff and administrators, and often invited family, friends and outside guests. Avodah Dance works with women at the Janet York Correctional Institution in Niantic, CT; the Delores Baylor Correctional Institution in New Castle, DE; and the Bedford Hills College Program at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Bedford Hills, NY. Avodah also shares workshops with young women in juvenile detention centers such as the New Castle County Juvenile Detention Center in Delaware. Beginning in 2012 and in collaboration with Hour Children, Avodah Dance began leading and developing programs that support the children of incarcerated women. Foundation support for Avodah Dance includes The J. Walton Bissell Foundation, The George and Grace Long Foundation, The Marshall Reynolds Foundation, The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, and The Bodenwein Public Benevolent Fund. Other support has come from the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew (Delaware) and private contributors. 

Community Programs:

Avodah offers high quality dance programming that is both educational and uplifting with the goal of strengthening communities and individuals. 

Community Dance:

Community dance is a circle dance based on Anna Halprin’s Planetary Dance. Julie Gayer Kris studied with Halprin and became a certified Planetary Dance Facilitator. Involving all ages and levels of mobility, participants dedicate their dance for a purpose and person other than themselves. An organization or group may choose to employ the community dance as a way to bring to life a theme they are working in promoting such as “Greening,” “Generation to generation,” or “Women’s Empowerment.” We work with your group to adapt this special dance to your needs.

Intergenerational workshops: 

Avodah brings intergenerational groups together to create and perform work. Avodah’s “The Body Project” brought together women ages 23-83 to explore body image through dance. We also link families through movement workshops. Collaborating with other artists including a musician and storyteller, we have been instrumental in leading an innovative “Out of the Shabbox” program at Union Temple in Brooklyn that explores Jewish values. 

Preschools: 

Julie Gayer Kris has been leading dance, movement, and yoga workshops for nursery and preschool aged children for over 15 years. She works with teachers and school directors to correlate movement curriculum to enhance learning. Emphasis is on creativity while also developing gross and fine motor skills. We often teach movement concepts inspired by biblical texts. 

Teens and tweens: 

Dance/Movement workshops and performances to promote creative expression, positive body image, self-awareness, and self confidence 

Women’s groups: 

Dance/Movement workshops and study sessions for sisterhood groups, women’s organizations to build communication skills, community and deepen understanding of topics important to each group’s mission and goals.