HOW IT ALL BEGAN
The golden color across our site is a tribute to the bright colors and marigold flowers in India. FREE BODY PROJECT is deeply influenced by the work of dance activists in Kolkata, India, who move against human trafficking and for the rights of women and girls.
Our Founder, Sydney Skov, had just returned from working with a human rights-focused nonprofit in Senegal when she went to work with Kolkata Sanved, the nonprofit in India that changed the course of her life. The dance therapy practitioners of Kolkata Sanved work with thousands of children growing up in the city’s shelter homes. A majority of these youth deal with post traumatic stress disorder from various experiences of violence and abuse, and access to mental and emotional healthcare is extremely limited. Sydney witnessed how the organization trains youth to become dance therapy practitioners, creating livelihoods and expanding access to a life-changing program. After volunteering for 6 months, Sydney returned to Kolkata Sanved for 2 more years, first as a Boren Fellow and then as a Fulbright Scholar to continue learning from and about this work.
Eager to discover a way to impact and remain engaged with dance and social justice work, she created FREE BODY PROJECT. The organization began in Portland, Oregon in 2012 as a way to raise local awareness of domestic 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, and also features Kolkata Sanved.
The scope of our work has since shifted. In speaking to dancers and activists around the world, we recognized that the many incredible organizations impacting lives through dance 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 understood that we could 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 lenses of trauma healing, peace building, culture, and importantly, movement.
FREE BODY PROJECT is a field building organization, dedicated to amplifying dance and social justice as a vibrant global field.
This work would not be possible without the help of incredible organizations and supporters like you we have received along the way. Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to:
Donna Karlin of A Better Perspective
Chris Peddecord and Peddecord Photo
Our 46 Indiegogo backers who helped us launch the very first Dance + Social Justice Conference with international speakers