Go to Content Go to Navigation Go to Navigation Go to Site Search Homepage

Through the “So You Think You Consent…?” Project, I’ve been witness to the ways in which dance is like a conversation. It can be a consensual conversation, filled with connection, invitation, careful listening, and reciprocity; I prefer to refer to this type of conversation as “dance whispering” (coined by professional dance instructor, Juan Calderon). Or it can be a conversation riddled with unhealthy power dynamics, commanding force, strict regulation, and human objectification, aka dance shouting. Over this past year, I found that sometimes people dance shout because they don’t know there are other ways to behave and interact outside of the framework they’ve been taught or previously experienced. Expanding this idea to my work as a sexuality educator, I believe that rape culture exists in part because people too often do not have healthy frameworks for being in a relationship in the first place. Toxic masculinity, unrealistic, even violent portrayals of sex in porn, gendered norms and expectations, homophobia, taboos on comprehensive sexuality education and the unavailability of information-- these are all components of an unhealthy framework served to the young people with whom I work daily.

This past month my GYA project culminated into a final event we at Planned Parenthood South Atlantic organized, Taking the Lead: Community and Consent Through Dance. The event featured the Tottering Biped Theater, which shared a powerful revamped Ted Talk style performance that intersected with my work exploring how consent (or non-consent) happens in the dance world. The Ted Talk was a critique of some of the problematic aspects of partner dancing, such as gendered power dynamics. The Ted Talk focused on “Liquid Leading” an updated approach to partner dancing that counteracts archaic gendered norms within dance. In partner dancing, there are two roles, a lead and a follow. Historically, these roles have been gendered, the man leads, the woman follows. Liquid Leading is an ungendering-- it seeks to achieve a more equitable relationship in dance in which these leading and following roles are shared and passed between dancers, even within a single dance.

In addition to generating community dialogue through the Ted Talk, Taking the Lead was designed to offer an experience. An experience to be more in our bodies, to not just talk about consent, but physically feel it and tune into being more aware and connected with another human. Partnering with local artists Lynsey Wyatt (Cirqulation) and Lisa Linger (Mental Health in Motion), this event featured a workshop that used partnered physical movements to better understand trust, communication, and listening in relationships. Participants leaned into and away from one another. They mirrored their movements. They listened. They felt.

This has been the goal of the “So You Think You Consent…?” Project-- that people would not only further their knowledge of consent, but also embody and positively experience it. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to pursue the intersection of dance and consent education through the Global Youth Ambassador Fellowship.  I look forward to continuing to explore the ways in which movement can become a greater part of sexuality educators’ toolboxes in the future. Because in the end, if we are trying to help others understand consent, what we are really trying to help them to learn is, as the Tottering Biped Theater dancers called it, “the fine art of taking care of one another.”

Tags: Sex Ed, Global, Planned Parenthood Global, Youth, Global Youth Advocacy Fellows

Become a Member of Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic and Planned Parenthood Action Fund

Sign Up

This website uses cookies

Planned Parenthood cares about your data privacy. We and our third-party vendors use cookies and other tools to collect, store, monitor, and analyze information about your interaction with our site to improve performance, analyze your use of our sites and assist in our marketing efforts. You may opt out of the use of these cookies and other tools at any time by visiting Cookie Settings. By clicking “Allow All Cookies” you consent to our collection and use of such data, and our Terms of Use. For more information, see our Privacy Notice.

Cookie Settings

Planned Parenthood cares about your data privacy. We and our third-party vendors, use cookies, pixels, and other tracking technologies to collect, store, monitor, and process certain information about you when you access and use our services, read our emails, or otherwise engage with us. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences, or your device. We use that information to make the site work, analyze performance and traffic on our website, to provide a more personalized web experience, and assist in our marketing efforts. We also share information with our social media, advertising, and analytics partners. You can change your default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our Necessary Cookies as they are deployed to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information, please see our Privacy Notice.



We use online advertising to promote our mission and help constituents find our services. Marketing pixels help us measure the success of our campaigns.



We use qualitative data, including session replay, to learn about your user experience and improve our products and services.



We use web analytics to help us understand user engagement with our website, trends, and overall reach of our products.