In March 2020, when Dancing Through Prison Walls’ ten-year choreographic residency inside the CRC Prison in Norco was put on hold due to the pandemic, artistic director, Suchi Branfman, began an ongoing handwritten log, archiving covid positivity numbers and deaths inside the California state prisons. Unbeknownst to her at the time, this archive handwritten on pads of yellow legal paper would become the basis for this latest work, DATA – 7 ways to dance a dance through prison walls. All the while, dances written from prison bunks were being sent out, including the stunning piece that drives this performance, I Am You, written by Forrest Reyes, who remains locked inside prison walls. The profound devastation of covid inside prisons living side by side with acts of resilience and community survival.
Performed by seven formerly incarcerated and “free world” performers; Marc Antoni Charcas, Ernst Fenelon Jr., Mokhtar Ferbrache, Selina Ho, Amy Oden, Tom Tsai, and Suchi Branfman. Including a deeply landscaped sound score created by visual/sonic designer, Jimena Sarno, and massive set design supervised by graphic designer Kimi Hanauer – both inspired by paper, the material that holds the data and carries the dances through prison walls.
“A virtual performance space of embodied liberation.”
“What Suchi Branfman and the artists around her are doing is nothing short of incredible.”
Jeff Slayton, LA Dance Chronicle