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DESERT HOT SPRINGS, CA: "Undanced Dances Through Prison Walls During a Pandemic"

DESERT HOT SPRINGS, CA: "Undanced Dances Through Prison Walls During a Pandemic"


Dancing Through Prison Walls


Desert Hot Springs Library
14380 Palm Drive


Saturday, October 28, 2023 - 3:00pm



Dancing Through Prison Walls

A live in-person performance centering 6 dances written inside Norco Prison. 12 artists dancing and conversing on creating in carceral spaces (6 choreographic interpreters, 6 formerly incarcerated narrators)

With Suchi Branfman, Susan Bustamante, Bernard Brown, Danny Camarena, Jay Carlon, Marc Antoni Charcas, Ernst Fenelon Jr., Irvin Gonzalez, Kenji Igus, Richie Martinez, Brianna Mims, Terry Sakamoto Jr., and Tom Tsai

In 2016, choreographer Suchi Branfman began a ten-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 methods for surviving restriction, limitations, and denial of liberty through the act of dancing. The dancing abruptly ended in March 2020, when the California state prison system shut down programming and visitation due to Covid-19. The work was rapidly revised, and the incarcerated dancers began sending out written choreographies from their bunks to the outside world.

The resulting performance of deeply imagined choreographic pieces, Undanced Dances Through Prison Walls During a Pandemic, will highlight six of the dances written inside the prison by Brandon Alexander, Richie Martinez, Landon Reynolds, and Terry Sakamoto Jr.

With artistic direction by Suchi Branfman, narration by Danny Camarena, Marc Antoni Charcas, Ernst Fenelon Jr., Richie Martinez, Susan Bustamante and Terry Sakamoto Jr. (formerly incarcerated movers and organizers) and choreographically interpreted/performed by the brilliant Bernard Brown, Jay Carlon, Irvin Gonzalez, Kenji Igus, Brianna Mims, and Tom Tsai (all of whom had previously 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, rhythm 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. And having been released in the spring of 2021, Terry Sakamoto Jr., who authored three of the dances, joins the project as a narrator, sharing his experiences dancing on the inside, and now, outside of prison walls. It is an honor to dance these works into the “free” world.

Join us for a performance at the Desert Hot Springs Library, followed by a conversation with the artists and activists.

This performance is presented as part of DANCING DHS, an extended dance and storytelling  community-based project building conversation and performance around sustenance and resilience in our desert communities. 

DANCING DHS is honored to be a California Creative Corps Program, supported by 18th Street Arts Center and the California Arts Council.


For more information: dancingthroughprisonwalls@gmail.com


#carenotcages #funddancenotprisons

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