“The EOP program has enriched my life”
San Quentin’s No Limits Dance Crew raised the roof once again during their May performance. The crew stepped it up and debuted their first piece of original choreography in the education department of the prison’s dormitory yard.
“The men came up with most of the moves, I just directed them in the space,” said Ms. Bridges, the program facilitator, “I’m so proud of them.”
The squad danced to an instrumental version of the song I Got Five On It with a pleasantly surprising violin added into the mix. It provided the perfect backdrop for their routine’s style— hip-hop and ballet fusion.
A standout feature of the routine was a dance circle, in which each performed a solo, displaying their distinctive styles.
“Heeeyyy! Hooo! Heeeyyy! Hooo!,” the crew chanted in unison, as their fellow dancers jumped into the middle of the circle one by one, showing off their moves.
Dancer Gary Brown showed off his newly created dance that he named The Swang, in which he swung one hand in a circular motion above his head while he fluidly mimicked the circular motion with his knees.
Then, dancer Matthew Paradise garnered cheers from the crowd as he confidently performed a popular dance called The Floss.
The following sequence was a mock dance battle, showing off synchronized step moves and precise pliés, which is a ballet movement with the knees bent and the back straight.
The whole routine ended with crew member Steele performing a “Krunk” solo, swinging his hands forward and backwards with intense emotion.
All the dancers then stood up and bowed as the crowd cheered, encouraging three encore performances.
The No Limits Dance Crew has been gaining a loyal fan base throughout the prison. Audience members from nearby H-Unit as well as the distant CHSB main hospital attended.
“We want to thank everybody for showing up,” the No Limits Dance Crew said in a joint statement, “We always want to give a round of applause to our audience.”
The No Limits Dance Crew is part of the rehabilitative programming offered by the Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP). EOP is a mental health treatment program.
Ms. Bridges, an EOP clinician, created the dance crew as a therapeutic tool for the participants’ mental health issues.
She brings to the program 20 years of dance and choreography experience, as well as a degree in dance.
To prepare, the team practiced twice a week in one-and-a-half hour sessions. Practicing the moves helped the men with their fine muscle motor coordination.
The idea to fuse ballet with hip-hop was inspired by a movie the crew watched called Street Dance, which they described as a British version of the dance movie Step Up.
Creating their own original choreography presented challenges, which the men turned into learning opportunities.
Controversies arose as each man tried to contribute his unique ideas to create an exciting routine.
“Even though we have disagreements, when we come together, we end up making something better,” dancer Steele said, “It’s all about teamwork.”
“The EOP program has enriched my life,” said crew- member Brown, “I want to thank Ms. Bridges and the No Limits Dance Crew. EOP is a blessing.”