Worldwide there is a growing move to provide prisoners with an experience of dance as a means of improving confidence, self-esteem, and in many cases increasing self-awareness. For all the participants, but especially the women, this is a unique opportunity to express themselves in a safe environment.
“Incorporating a dance program similar to the RNZB in Canadian prisons would be highly beneficial to the health and wellbeing of prisoners,” write authors Dr Sylvie Frigon and Jana Skorstengaard from the Department of Criminology at the University of Ottawa in this month’s article in the journal Scientific Research. Entitled The Royal New Zealand Ballet and the Power of Dance in Prison, the article is based on research conducted with the RNZB in 2020 where Jana interviewed all seven of the dance educators and dance tutors involved since the project was first delivered at Arohata Women’s Prison in 2017. It discusses ways in which dance helps bring a sense of joy and meaning to the lives of prisoners.
After a successful trial in Wellington Women’s Prison in 2017 the RNZB has continued offering workshops in prisons across the country. Subsequently we were given the opportunity to undertake workshops in the men’s prison in Wellington, as well as the women’s prisons in Auckland and Christchurch. We are thrilled to be collaborating with the Department of Corrections to continue building this programme in the years to come.