111 Steps to the Steel Door: A Movement Exploration of the Journey from Death Row to the Death Chamber
Today's prison industrial complex in the United States often dehumanizes inmates simply because they are criminals. Members of the free society are generally too far removed from the inside of prisons that most people do not see the harsh and cruel conditions for and treatment of prisoners. As a Dance and Justice Studies major at Arizona State University, I was curious about how to intertwine my interests in dance and justice. This paper chronicles my exploration of adding a human rights issue to my dance practice through choreographing a solo dance performance based on Cleve Foster's unusual experience on death row. Research on theories of prison and punishment in American society combined with physical research in the dance studio enabled me to create a solo performance that shed light on the inhumane conditions for and treatment of prison inmates in today's society. Through the process, I found that some elements of my dance practice stayed the same, while others changed. This informed me of what continuously remains important to me, while allowing me to expand my personal dance practice. I ultimately discovered a bridge between my two passions, dance and justice, and learned a meaningful way to convey a contemporary social justice issue to the general public.