The Dance + Social Justice Conference 2016

Thank you for joining us for our second inspiring conference in NYC!! 

On Wednesday, December 7th, five inspiring leaders in the field of dance and social justice joined us and our partners, Gibney Dance and New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study to explore and discuss the various ways in which dance and movement can address pressing social issues and provide outlets for healing and empowerment for underserved youth, communities and survivors of violence. 

Both portions of the event, the experiential movement workshops at Gibney Dance's original studio at 890 Broadway and the panel discussion in Gallatin's theater space, were packed. What continues to surprise and fascinate me about this field is the breadth and depth of the impacts these artists and activists make. I'm also continually inspired by the number of people who realize the power and potential of this work (within mental health, community building, conflict resolution, anti-violence, women's empowerment, the list continues) and want to be a part of it. This is not simply about finding ways to build our own community, this is about learning of and finding new and sustainable ways to support the individuals and organizations who are working to change systems of inequality from the ground up through innovative uses of movement. 

The event began with three instructors of the Gibney Dance Community Action program leading the group through a class they teach regularly within domestic violence shelters across New York State. The classes provide an outlet for gentle movement, creativity and expression while imparting lessons of self-care for violence survivors.

We then experienced the movement modalities of dance movement therapy practitioner, Amber Elizabeth Gray, who has been pioneering dance therapy programming within the field of international development for more than two decades. In her work with survivors of torture, she uses exercises to help individuals find a safe and peaceful place within their own bodies and minds. The body can be both a temple and a minefield, she said. A site of both trauma and healing for many. 

Lastly we took a powerful journey with social practice dance artist and viral blogger, Shawn Lent who designs and implements dance-based interventions for youth, refugees and children living with cancer. 

These experiences were deepened during a thought-provoking panel discussion with: 

Amber Gray, Director, Restorative Resources Training and Consultingand Executive Director, the Kint Institute

Shawn Lent, Social Practice Dance Artist and Manager, Chicago Dancemakers Forum and Createquity

Yasemin Ozumerzifon, Senior Community Action Manager of Gibney's Community Action program

Simon Dove, Executive and Artistic Director of Dancing in the Streets 

Ana Dopazo, Program Director, Choices Alternative to Detention for the Center of Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES).


The evening was brought to a close by a surprise visit from Margie Gillis, acclaimed modern dancer and choreographer who's current teachings include dance as a vehicle for conflict transformation. 

The work of these thought leaders and social change makers is daring, deep and thoroughly inspiring. Please learn more about their organizations, the individuals and communities both local and global that they serve, and the models through which they utilize movement and dance as resources to build empathy, transform conflict, provide much needed outlets for healing and re-connecting to the body for violence survivors, provide new livelihood opportunities, support underserved youth and work against violence.


FOLLOW Free Body Project @freebodyproject on Instagram or on Facebook for more resources and news of upcoming events 

CLICK any and all of the links in yellow above for further research and reading

READ up on the incredible contributors to last year's event at the Martha Graham Dance Company Studios 

WATCH video resources from last year- Videos from December 7th coming up soon!! 

EMAIL us at to get in touch