Doing Time: Dance in Prison

Uploaded by StanfordUniversity on 04.08.2010

Professor Ross is Director of the Dance Division of the
Drama Department, and now, because I know, a faculty member
for twenty years.
Now, she is a leading scholar in her field.
And I can?t think of another person.
There are only a small handful of people across the
university who does the work of scholarship, balancing that
with public service, and creating an exceptional curricular
and internship experience as far as students doing
incredible work in communities near Stanford.
Now I first met Janice
We may have met before
But I got to know her really for the first time in 1998 when
we held the third Haas Center Faculty Institute on service-
Now that was our effort to identify particular faculty
She was a target for us
We said look
If we can get Janice involved, we got someone in the Dance
Division who can do this work.
And indeed, it was no surprise that after that wonderful
retreat that we had at the Marconi Center in Point Reyes
that Janice came up with
I don?t know if it was this idea
But she started to think about ideas of combining her work
with community service.
So it was really no surprise
She came up with this phenomenal experience for our students
and a tremendous experience for kids who in our society we
have names for
Throw-away youth.
Forgotten teens.
Troubled teens.
Kids who find their way into our jails.
Incarcerated youth.
And it?s here that she developed a project that I am not
going to explain to you because that?s the topic of her talk
But phenomenal experience.
So when you talk with students or you hear from students
that have been involved in that experience and that class
and that experience of going to the prisons and teaching
Dance is the medium to get to these youth.
Here?s some of the things that they say.
Et cetera, et cetera.
These are the experiences of students that are not only
commenting about the incredible work and the incredible
project that Janice has created for them.
But the nature of the work with these youth in the jails.
So it?s been an enormous experience.
Passionate experience for the Stanford students.
But I have not talked to the youth who have been involved
with this project over the years.
But I bet you they would say the same thing.
So I won?t say anything more about that project because
that?s what she?ll talk to us about today.
But I want to mention her remarkable work as one of the
leading scholars in her field in the country.
Janice has set the standard for both scholarship and in her
area of expertise.
After receiving her BA from UC Berkeley.
There were some past digressions.
She decided she had the right thought.
She came across the Bay and got the MA and PhD from
And thereafter, soon thereafter, launched a career in the
Dance Division, of which she is now the director of the
Dance Division.
She is the
Here is the leadership in her field as well.
She is the president elect of the Society of Dance Scholars
And past president of the Dance Critics Association.
She has published three books, many articles and essays in
leading journals and anthologies in her field.
I?ll mention just a few here.
University of Wisconsin Press 2000
The Beginning of Dance in American Education
Anna Halprin Experience as Dance
University of California Press 2000
The San Francisco Ballet: An American Voice in Ballet 2007
And again it?s no surprise that she?s won many awards,
fellowships, and grants over the years
I?ll name a few here as well
She?s received the Stanford Humanities Center Fellowship
Guggenheim Fellowship
That?s an incredibly competitive fellowship.
Grants, among others, Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture
And the Peninsula Community Foundation
With no further ado, please join me in welcoming Professor
Janice Ross.
Thank you.
Thank you very much, Al.
That was a very generous introduction.
And you actually
I think you got it right that we did meet at the Marconi
Center in 1998
And it was an inspirational connection for me.
I?d like to kind of start on that note, actually.
And I?m very honored and privileged to be here.
I really welcome the invitation to share something of what
this work as been.
So I?ll talk a bit about how this project of the class got
And then at the end I?ve actually asked two students who
were in the class last year to share a bit of their
Because this class is constructed very much as a team
community process.
And Al, you may not know it, but were also an inspiration at
the genesis of this class.
Because it was at that retreat at Marconi, that I first
heard you speak about Poverty and Homelessness in America
Your class.
And I thought it was really a model for public scholarship
in the humanities.
And particularly as a dance historian a little part of me
lit up.
Because I thought it was immensely encouraging to see the
discipline of history used as a platform for engaged social
And I listened closely to what you were saying.
You talked at some length about your work.
And I really wanted to discover how a historian?s practice
could be used to highlight the less visible people in the
present into action for the future.
So you can take either credit or blame, however you?d like
to take that.
But Al?s approach to me really yielded very valuable
guideposts for my own path into Dance in Prisons.
And this afternoon I?m going to sketch out some of that the
Both of the journey and the class that resulted from the
It began at Stanford 9 years ago.
So we?re coming up on almost the 10-year anniversary of it.
Now at the outset, the pairing of the words ?dance? and
?prisons? might suggest a paradox or even a bad joke.
You wonder what are the arts, and more pointedly, the one
art form that is really most emblematic of a liberated body,
dance, doing in a criminal punishment system premised on
confinement and containment of the body?
Looked at from the other side, what possible connection
could there be between dance as an academic discipline in
the university, or an art form on the concert stage, and its
presence in the regimented existence of the incarcerated?
The answers really are ?nothing,? and also ?everything.?
Through Dance in Prisons I and a group of 20 Stanford
undergraduates and the occasionally a grad student joins us.
And Christa Gannon who?s been a critical part of the class
for the last several years
We explore the nexus of issues that framed the practice of
dance in prisons.
These range from educational theories about situated
About experiential learning.
And aesthetic education.
To very powerful case studies of dance and theatre artists
across the US who are now working in the prisons.
Also to juvenile justice law.
The mechanics and consequences of arrest, conviction,
sentencing, serving time.
So all of these issues intersect in the class.
I also highlight parallels between the discipline of
training for performance that dancers undergo and the
performance of obedience that the incarcerated are trained
How there is defacto ?choreography? to the controlled
actions of people in prisons. And how all of their movements
are carefully scripted.
How they move.
How fast they move.
Their proximity to others.
The position of their arms behind their backs when they are
in transit.
And this is a particular posture for juveniles when they are
moved from one place to another.
These images come from the juvenile hall in Orange County,
but it?s a position and a movement that we witness every
time that we go into Santa Clara/San Mateo Juvenile Hall.
It?s the kind of ?I?m not a risk? broadcast of your body in
that position.
We also notice the distance.
The way space is controlled inside the juvenile hall.
And the youth are told that they must keep from the command
desks in the units.
This is the unit, what it looks like in Santa Clara Juvenile
We move the desks out of the way here, the tables, and dance
on that small little area of white floor.
And you can kind of see a slight different colored floor
material around the guard?s desk.
That?s where you do not enter.
You do not cross that space.
So space itself contains certain commands for the youth
The bodies within this space are subject to continual
There are cameras.
There are guards.
There are viewing platforms.
And it echoes in some ways the kind of close spectatorship
of bodies that also happens in theaters.
You might extend this metaphor of performance in prisons to
the use of uniforms as costumes.
Because what you wear denotes who you are in the hierarchy.
And it denotes what your character or role within this
institution is.
Now there are drawings by an artist Alex Donis.
He calls them Pas de duex, dance of two.
And they are probation officers with different gang members
kind of signifying through clothing and posture.
The Bloods and the Cripps are at the bottom here, in the
blue and the red.
Number 5, et cetera, are gang linked images.
But he decided dance was the perfect metaphor of absurdity
between these two.
And we try to erase that absurdity and say, in fact, dance
is a really rich medium here for looking at this system and
in many ways trying to make an intervention in it.
And there is a lot of performing that goes on of actual
behaviors within the prisons.
One of the most noticeable things for us in the class will
be the youths who want to perform that they?re holding back,
that they?re not really part of it.
Yet they?re engaged.
They?re connected.
And they?re right on that fine line of not getting
disciplined because they?re tipped over the edge.
But they?re also showing they're physical, kind of holding
their own resistance.
And we?re attentive to those nuances of behavior in
Prisons have their own sets of sounds and lighting.
Again, carrying the theatrical metaphor through.
There?s a clang of heavy metal doors that resonate.
Students always comment on it after the first visit.
As they are unlocked and locked repeatedly as you move
deeper inside the facility.
Fluorescent lighting.
It?s on continuously.
That kind of white lighting that just kind of makes
everything in a sort of haze.
It all serves this atmosphere of heightened visibility and
external control.
So these are observations I?ve just shared with you about
space, about movement, about the construction of identity
that the dancer can bring to work in prisons from that
unique perspective.
And it leads back when you leave to insights about the
politics of institutions and design outside.
And I?ve come to really believe that this mix of strangeness
combined with unexpected familiarity.
"Like, I recognize that."
Is one of the things that makes the experiences in this
class so compelling.
Many of the more than 200 Stanford students who have taken
it over the years.
And I usually limit it to 15 or so, 20 maximum.
Enter with their own histories of having danced since
Ballet, social dance, competitive ballroom or urban street.
The style doesn?t matter so much as the sudden shift from
thinking of dance as a recreational or elite practice to
suddenly viewing it as a rich medium for exploring social
A smaller but consistent population is also present in the
And those are the Stanford students with personal histories
of either siblings, parents, relatives, friends who are
currently or formerly incarcerated or working in the prison
This connection usually emerges many weeks into the course
after our weekly class reflections on what this experience
is about begin to emerge.
And the more one learns about incarceration in the US, the
more it really looms as a parallel universe
Both eerily unseen and yet surprisingly pervasive.
And our passport into this is dance .
Now these images come from Anne Hammersky, a wonderful
photographer who took them for the Stanford Magazine for a
feature she did last year.
And they are not filmed in juvenile hall, they?re filmed in
the probation school, Gateway School, which is right outside
of San Mateo County Juvenile Hall.
Last year, because of a couple of celebrated escapes from
both facilities that we normally work in, we found out a few
weeks before the class that we were denied entry to either
And Christa Gannon and Ehud worked very quickly to get us
access to the probation school which had a similar
A number of these youths are on monitoring with electronic
ankle bracelets. They?ve either been in this system and
rotated out or some of them, while the class was in session,
actually went into Juvenile Hall.
At the beginning of the day, it?s being patted down and
wanded with a metal detector.
So this is the ritual as the youth enter school, and Anne
was able to photograph everything as long as she showed no
You?ll be able to tell everyone shown from the back is a
youth in the school, and all the people with their faces
showing are students, Stanford students in the class.
But because our passport was dance, it let us enter with
relative ease, this hidden realm that so heavily policed
from outside access.
And because we focus on incarcerated youth, in Santa Clara
or San Mateo Juvenile Hall, the inside population are the
age contemporaries of the Stanford students, and that makes
for a really rich lateral exchange.
Much of this work is really about students teaching
The movement is hip-hop, urban style dance and it?s a form
of movement many of the youth on the inside are really
expert at.
So they shine as masters in the weekly class and teach us
the moves as much as we?re teaching back to them.
That first year that the class began, I discovered that I
had actually set up my classroom on the tip of a massive
iceberg, which was the US criminal justice system.
The statistics were and continue to be staggering.
The US has the highest documented incarceration rate in the
On average, there are 754 inmates per 100,000 US citizens.
And according to last years US Bureau of Justice Statistics,
at the end of last year there were 93,000 youth being held
in juvenile facilities, more than 2.3 million people are
currently incarcerated in US prisons or jails, and over 7.3
million are on probation, in jail or prison, or on parole.
So it?s a huge network of people who have touched this
Race disparities are pronounced.
Black males are incarcerated more than six times the rate of
white males, and black female three times the rate of white
So by the end of the class, the oddity is not just that
prisons and dance intersect, but that so many academic and
public concerns do as well.
It really is only a slight stretch to say that prisons in
the US are simultaneously invisible yet ubiquitous.
And they are located in communities throught-out the nation,
but interestingly they?re usually not marked by signs.
This is Santa Clara Juvenile Hall, viewed from the parking
lot, but no angle would yield, a big, lighted marquee,
?Juvenile Hall? here at all.
As the statistics indicate, what varies most are our degrees
of separation from this reality.
With Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall, the students discover
that this community site where Dance in Prisons actually
happens is actually just across the road from the San Jose
Airport, and that they?ve passed it multiple times, coming
and going to campus, but they never knew it.
Usually after this class, it?s a bit of information that
they never forget.
So how did the class come into being?
I believe that the most powerful public service work and
scholarship twins with autobiography, and that the desire to
make personal passion a springboard for public good is one
of the motors that drives both emerging and established
scholars to turn toward public service.
The most satisfying of it may well also double as a type of
?private service.?
We talk a lot about public service, I think there?s that
private service piece that?s a close companion.
So my story begins with my freshman year at UC Berkeley, in
late 1969, in the shadow of growing demonstrations against
the Vietnam war.
And a tense showdown developed over students? and community
members? desire to turn a rubble-filled lot just a few
blocks from campus into a park.
The University?s interest was in converting it into a
parking lot & a sports field.
This was the beginning of the People?s Park Riot.
It led to one man being killed, one blinded,100s injured and
arrested, and the National Guard occupied the city of
Berkeley for two weeks.
I now marvel how radical an act it was then for students to
transverse Bancroft Avenue into the community.
And how menacing and violent it felt to have the world spill
back onto campus in the presence of Alameda Sheriffs and The
National Guard patrolling Sproul Plaza in riot gear.
And these photos here, the upper right-hand corner, is the
UC campus with teargas canisters going off.
There was aerial teargassing and also teargassing shot from
the ground.
The image on the left is shot on campus with full riot gear.
The Alameda Police standing off against a group of students,
and the image at the bottom is Bancroft Avenue.
Campus is on this side, and the other side leads to the
community, only it?s barricaded by a row of military
vehicles and the National Guard in formation.
So a very, very dramatic image of the separation between the
University and the community.
These were not easy crossings.
Symbolically and literally they were wrenching passages
across boundaries between the university and community.
Invisible but at that moment also seemingly impenetrable.
Welcome to public service and the university 1960s style.
It?s easy to forget that not that long ago ?going civic?
from the university carried certain risks.
Tear gas and billy clubs have been replaced by more subtle
disincentives ? the marginalization of scholarship and
research coming from this work is one example ? but the
rewards of stepping off campus loom ever more enticing.
Many of my fellow students back at Berkeley in those years
used civil disobedience - the performance of not following
the rules ? to delay being drafted and sent to fight in
There were no academic classes bridging that gulf into the
community then.
I, like my fellow bewildered freshmen, looked for ways to
make our work on campus connect with the contested world
outside, safely and if possible, legally.
Now, for an art history major the links were not obvious ?
until my sophomore Spring ? when the antiwar riots and the
police?s tear gassing of the Berkeley campus resumed.
This time in the midst of an anti-war poster assembly line
that I participated in, in the art building, I watched an
art grad student appropriate an image from Francisco Goya to
provide a visual metaphor for feeding a generation of 18-
year-olds into the war machine of Vietnam and Cambodia
This poster has since become an historic example of art
history remixed as a call to action.
Back then it was eye-opening for me to see the power of an
art image to both frame and distill sentiment and this
frustration of powerlessness.
To feel that the arts could operate in the daily world and
bring a special kind of understanding beyond the heated
rhetoric of raw conflict, suggested a new space of
After UC Berkeley, and between getting my graduate degrees
at Stanford, I initially pursued a different route into the
arts and public scholarship.
I became a staff arts journalist for a metropolitan daily,
and for 10 years, when print journalism was still a serious
and a viable profession ? I wrote about the performing arts
and artists.
I think of it now as a kind of distance education where I
never saw my students ? the readers ? but I daily tried to
draw their attention to artists and work which I found
compelling ? often choreographers taking dance into public
spaces while using it to address contemporary issues.
When I began teaching at Stanford I continued to write
occasional freelance pieces, and in the late 1990s I learned
about a dance class being taught by local dance instructor,
Ehud Krauss, who?s here today somewhere.
Yes, that?s Ehud.
Ehud had been a community dance teacher for a number of
years in Palo Alto, and he invited me to watch what he was
With mix of curiosity and trepidation I agreed.
That first visit I made to juvenile hall to watch Ehud
teaching a dozen teenaged boys in baggy shorts and T-shirts,
in a dim, cement-floored common area just outside their
cells, was dramatic.
I still remember the sicky-sweet smell of institutional
disinfectant that was thick in the still air.
The boys? dancing was wild, alert, responsive, urgent.
Despite jears from the probation officers who lounged along
the perimeter of the room, these 50 minutes of dance clearly
meant something special to the ?inside? youth.
To paraphrase Judith Butler ? they were shifting briefly
from bodies that don?t matter to bodies that do, by virtue
of how they grabbed this chance to dance.
So let me say something about what happens now in the class.
From the start the content of this class ? the nexus of art,
the juvenile justice system, and community service ?
disrupts traditional hierarchies of knowledge creation and
its distribution in the classroom.
There are no absolute experts in the content in Dance in
Prisons ?because of the interdisciplinarity of its subject.
Everyone in the class is charged with being a teacher as
well as a student.
Being savvy about urban dance moves is valued as cultural
John Dewey?s educational philosophy of the value of learning
by doing is of course an important frame here, as is Michel
Foucault?s theorizing of discipline and punishment as
historic means for making bodies docile.
Through Dance in Prisons, the focused and casual
conversations that the ?outside? students have with the
?inside? ? inside-outside, Stanford students being outside ?
these two group have, while learning dance, actually creates
little mini peer tutoring moments in the dance class.
Now while all this theorizing might be dismissed as
intellectual ruminations, the opportunity to dance for
incarcerated youth brings a rich variety of possibilities:
It shows how movement behavior can be a conscious choice and
a construction, and success
And it suggests possible identities that the youth inside
might try on through their actions
It gives the opportunity to externalize emotions.
The staff in juvenile hall consistently tell us that during
the weeks the class is running and we are coming in on a
weekly basis, the behavior improves since infractions can
mean not being let out of your cell to dance when we arrive.
Dance in Prisons offers a new perspective on how performance
can be linked to survival.
It lets youth occupy a position of power and control in a
space where that seems completely relinquished.
It allows one to be seen with the special attention that is
a routine part of the close observation of a dance student,
that goes on in every dance studio, where the teacher scans
the student?s body for physical signs of understanding and
But in the prisons and the juvenile halls, this is so rare,
that it is often felt as love.
So what does this mean?
For most people, the primary source about their information
about prisons, juvenile halls, jails, still remains
television, the internet, popular journalism, Hollywood
Through the nightly news, shows like Lockdown, Prison Break,
OZ, Law & Order and films like The Shawshank Redemption and
Minority Report, display plentiful media images of crime and
But typically these narratives focus on the crimes
committed, the individuals apprehended, the justice served.
And yet, despite the frequency of these images, the lives of
people in prisons remain largely invisible, their stories
largely ignored.
And that?s exactly where this class goes in
I wish I could introduce you now to this young man, Jose ?
who was changed by the experiences of dancing with this
class for 3 years, the longest of any of the inside
But it is one of the ironies that those who get the most
experience are those with the longest sentences.
On his 18th birthday ? the day before we arrived for our
last weekly class that year, Jose was transferred to serve a
sentence of more than a decade at San Quentin.
And he?d been in the juvenile hall starting at age 15.
This class made a difference for him and he certainly did
for the class.
To bring attention to the unseen, to notice the ignored, is
one of the most vibrant cultural and social functions of the
arts, and it really only intensifies when the arts are
brought to the incarcerated.
The charge for the students in the Stanford class is how to
advance this insight into action.
John Dewey again reminds us that good education should have
both a societal but also an individual purpose.
He believed that the arts in particular had the unique
social function of re-educating perception.
And that as educators we are responsible for providing
students with experiences that are immediately valuable
while also enabling them to better contribute to society.
So for me ? every time I teach this class I actually come
back conceptually to that street in Berkeley that in 1969
marked so sharply the divide between the university and
And I cross it.
Thank-you very much.
So I took Dance In Prisons last year, the year that we
didn?t get to go into the juvenile hall, that we were
working with the kids at the Gateway school because of the
So my experience before taking this class was little to
nothing of theater or dance as a form for social change or
social justice in the community.
And I have always loved drama and dance.
I?m a drama major here.
I intend to do theater for my life and I had always
obviously had a passion for helping others and doing things
in the community but I hadn?t really found a way to marry
the two in my mind and when I saw this class listed in the
course listings, I jumped on the opportunity because it
sounded amazing.
And taking the class, I learned a whole lot more than I
could have imagined going into it, and I think that also
come from the fact that this class approaches the issue from
so many different angles.
From history, from theory, from the justice system in
America, and particularly in California, we really focused
on the details of how the justice system works in this
And I think getting all angles of the issue really made it a
more coherent experience for me and made me really feel what
the issue was rather than just think about it.
And one of the amazing things about working with the youth,
I think, was the personal connection that we had.
We got paired with one youth, and then every week we danced
with the same partner, so we built a relationship over time,
and we could talk about anything except why they were in
there, which was so wonderful because it almost was like we
weren?t in a gateway school, we were just out in the world
meeting this person, and prison wasn?t part of the equation.
But obviously it was and obviously we felt that.
And at least with the boy that I was paired with, he was
clearly the ?butt? of a lot of class jokes, and so being
paired with him, it was hard some times because I could see
him hurting when people made fun of him, but I got the
opportunity to be his partner and to work with him on dance
and making sure he felt in a pair with me, so he had someone
to back him up and he had someone as his partner, and not
just the whole class against him.
So that was really valuable for me, developing that
partnership with one of the youth.
And my other favorite part of this class was our final
research paper.
We could write about any, anything we wanted related to this
large issue and so because my interest is in drama, I chose
to explore how drama and ensemble theater can be a form of
social change or how it can help kids for either pre-trauma
therapy like preventative in education, how it can prevent
them from even entering into prison systems, or, the post-
prison, post-trauma, how drama can help in that sense.
And I was surprised because I hadn?t heard too much about it
because it?s not really well known information.
So I got so much into it that after the class, in this past
fall, I took a psychology class and I did further research
into it and actually developed some ideas for experiments
that can be done to prove the effectiveness of these sorts
of exercises because I think one of the main problems about
the arts is that a lot of people think they are valuable but
there?s no substantial proof that it?s valuable.
So that was a different angle that I took where I got to
explore from the psychology side and the research side and
research studies.
So in conclusion, this class, in a sense, sparked a new
interest for me but really it was just marrying these
different passions of mine and I found, or it identified
what I had always felt about theater that something about
theater was extremely valuable.
And people always ask me why do you do theater, why is it
valuable, and I always felt that it was, but it was hard to
And so now when people ask me, I always bring up this class
and I explain what we did, and I think it?s such a good
demonstration of why the arts are valuable.
So, thank you.
Can you hear me?
Hi everyone!
My name is Mariam, I?m a junior here, I?m a psych major and
I have no theater, no dancing experience, nothing.
Actually, the only type of dancing I do is belly dancing
alone in my room.
Videos of Shakira, stuff like that, kind of mock that.
But I think the only way for me to show what kind of effect
this class had on me is to show you what kind of a person I
was before I got to it, and the person I became.
To be honest, and I?m not ashamed to say this anymore, the
kind of person I was, was the person who believed that kids
who ended up in juvenile hall deserved it.
And all the punishment they got, they deserved it.
They didn?t need any frou-frou classes to help them, like
dance classes to help them at all, and came to this class,
and did a complete 180* on these youth and I realized that
these are kids that do not, this is not the way to try to
help these kids.
It wasn?t the way to, strict punishment type discipline
wasn?t the way to help these kids.
And through this class, through these sessions, through the
dancing, that is what I learned, I realized that this
discipline is not the form, this strict discipline shouldn?t
be used as a strict form of punishment.
It shouldn?t be used to restrict them, to hold them down.
It should be used through something like performing arts,
like dance.
It should be used as a way to, as a creative output for
their creative energy, as a way to release their emotions,
and as a way to be able to master a dance and pat themselves
on the back for it.
These kids try to, from what I?ve learned from what their
lifestyles are like, what their community is like, what
their school is like for them, they could use any bit of
motivation that they can possibly get, and if they can do
that through dance, which is hopefully what they got through
If they can get that small bit of ?I totally mastered the
Cha-Cha, I could show my girlfriend or boyfriends, and
they?ll fall in love with me even further? and I just
realized that is the way, at least from the community
service perspective, that is a better way to get through to
these kids.
I?m a psych major so I came in with the bent of ?what?s
going on with them mentally, emotionally what?s going on?
and that is also what I did my research paper on at the end.
Pretty much, what are the factors of kids that have parents
who end up prison and kids who end up in juvenile hall.
I realized there is so much attached to it.
There?s stigma, there?s not having their parents around, and
then there?s the stigma that they experience in school which
leads them to behavioral problems which leads them.
And I came in with that bent and because of that, I?m not
sure if it was Christa or Janice, but one of them pointed
out that you can?t come into this class and then leave
pretending that you hadn?t learned anything about these kids
and their lives.
You just can?t.
And you just can?t pretend that it doesn?t matter to you
anymore, and I realized that.
And actually this year I tried to, through one of my other
psychology courses, set up an intervention, a small little
intervention to try to boost the self-esteem of these youth,
these at-risk youth in East Palo Alto.
I couldn?t carry it out this past spring, but I plan to do
it in the fall.
And that is how this class has helped me realize that this
is something that I, this is an area I need to be in.
All the scholarly academic info that I got everything was
all well and good, but in the end, it was the satisfaction
you get when you?re dancing with these youth.
I didn?t have the same partner for many weeks.
I kept switching partners back and forth because of
attendance and stuff like that.
So I think I had one partner for the last three weeks, and I
had him for the most times as compared to anyone else.
And in the beginning, it was very, very difficult to get him
to move.
He felt that he was protected, that he didn?t need to know
this, he didn?t need to move at all.
He was kind of afraid to jump out of the box.
I tried to tell him anything, like ?Do you have a
He?d say yes.
I?d say "Y?know, she would really, really be impressed if
you knew how to Salsa."
I tried to do as much as I possibly could to get him to go
and I think, sometimes it seems like it?s not getting
through to them.
Sometimes it seems like it?s not helping them.
But in the end of the class, I think the second-to-last
class, he said to me, ?Can we learn that move one more time,
my girlfriend really wants to see me dance the Cha-Cha.?
?Can we do it??
And so I finally got him to dance with me and want to
actually learn and that is the satisfaction you get from
this kind of work.
So other than the academic, other than everything else you
learn about their lives, about the economy, about juvenile
justice system, in the end you realize that this community
service is something that we all, at some point, just need
not for them, because it would help them out, even in the
smallest way possible, but for yourself.
So, thank you.
And Christa should have a more fuller introduction because
she?s the founder and CEO of FLY: Fresh Lines for Youth,
which is peer-mentoring, leadership with at-risk youth, many
of whom interface with the Santa Clara Juvenile Hall, so you
>> Thank you Janice, for it?s such an honor to teach and
learn and be a student of this experience.
And I think for me, what?s so powerful about what Janice has
presented to you all tonight is that Dance In Prisons is
such a great example of service learning at its best.
And I think it?s so powerful for a number of different
And I think the first one is the passion that Janice
displays for her ?outside? students, for the Stanford
I will never forget when we taught the class last, we were
completely oversubscribed.
And true to Janice?s nature, treating me as a full partner,
pulled me in to a part of the process I was not happy to be
a part of, which is how do we select who gets to come in and
who has to be kicked out.
And that was to watch Janice and see how much she agonized
over the decisions about who couldn?t take the course
because there wasn?t room.
And the concern and love she had for those students and the
desire to have an experience that could transform their
lives, was something I will never forget that meeting in
that classroom.
The other thing about Janice that I love, and about service
learning that is so important is the passion for
intellectual rigor.
And just being here tonight, whenever I hear Janice speak I
want to walk away and my mind is just firing in a different
And the books that we would read and the articles that would
be presented.
I mean, I would be taking furious notes along with the
students in class because I always learn when I?m taking
And so to really apply such a pedagogy and holistic approach
to a subject that is so powerful is such a meaningful
experience for students and for community partners.
So to see that in action is amazing.
And I think the other piece that I?m so grateful for is the
passion for community, which is what service learning is
Janice called me several years ago, had heard about me and
asked me to come in and speak to the class about how do you
go in and work in the juvenile justice system.
I am not an answer, and my height tells you any flaws, I
know there are some ballerinas, I?ve learned, who are above
six feet tall, but at 6?2, it?s definitely not my thing.
But what is my thing is how do you work in the juvenile
justice system, and how do you connect with these teenagers
and how do you deal with councilors or guards who are
treating you in a way that might not be so appropriate and
how do you maneuver in these political systems.
And after Janice heard me speak and the impact I had on the
students, she came back and said, ?This is an important
piece that we?re missing. Be my partner in this.?
?Come back and help me teach this class.?
And I was so honored to have what I was doing day-to-day be
validated by a Stanford professor.
It took my breath away.
And it wasn?t just about ?well, come to the class and help
teach,? it?s ?okay, Christa, here?s the draft of the
syllabus, what?s missing, what do we need, what do we need
to put in??
And a total commitment to the inside students.
?What do the inside students need, what are they missing,
how can we serve them??
And to me, that is the beauty about service learning.
It?s that you bring together your passion for your Stanford
You bring together your passion for intellectual rigor.
You bring together the passion of the community.
And the result is total and complete transformation.
I?ve seen students on the inside be transformed.
These young men and women, it is the best part of their day
when the Stanford students show up.
They will wait all week long for that 50 minutes.
And in those moments, our Stanford students will say and do
things that these young men and women will remember for the
rest of their lives.
That?s total transformation.
Reading the students? journals and reflections and seeing
students go from a place of total candid honesty, which is
how I was when I entered college.
?People who are in prison deserve to be there.?
?We shouldn?t have to worry about them.?
?We shouldn?t have to provide services? to ?I want to devote
my life to serving these men and women.?
Total transformation, and that?s the power of what service
learning can do.
And so to be a part of that, in some way has been such an
incredible honor for me, and I think, such a testament to
what this University stands for, what Janice Ross stands
for, what the Haas Center stands for, and it just gives me
immense pride to be affiliated with it in any way.
So, thank you.