How it all began.
After seeing dance and human rights come together in Senegal and India while working with women’s rights-focused nonprofits, our founder realized movement and change were deeply connected. FREE BODY PROJECT began as an inquiry into what was being done in this unique field and into how to support dance and dancers tackling pressing social issues.
Inspired by the work of Kolkata Sanved in India, FREE BODY PROJECT began in Portland, Oregon in 2012 as a way to raise local awareness of domestic (within the United States) sex trafficking and gender violence using dance as advocacy. The project was initially composed of a city-wide dance and awareness raising campaign that mobilized over 100 local dancers to perform in various public spaces during the summer of 2013.
The project also consisted of a weekly movement class for survivors in partnership with Janus Youth and Polaris Dance Theatre. Lastly, it encompassed the creation of a short, experimental dance documentary film - Move for Freedom - which was the project that launched our current film series, Justice Dance.
The scope of our work has since shifted. We recognized that the many incredible organizations impacting lives through dance around the world don’t receive the visibility and support they deserve. Dance is commonly misunderstood and glossed over as a powerful intervention despite the growing success of organizations utilizing sport, music, and theater as successful social change interventions. “Art and social change” rarely includes dance, which is why FREE BODY PROJECT is dedicated to movement exclusively. We didn’t want to reinvent the wheel when there are powerful programs out there already empowering lives. We can make system-wide impact by building a field for this powerful work.
Dancers hold impressive kinesthetic and cultural knowledge that goes widely untapped when considering social change. It’s time dancers take a seat at the table of global conversations around social justice through the lens of trauma healing, peace building, culture, and movement.