Through holistic dance therapy, the free program helps survivors reprocess, rebuild, and reclaim relationships with their bodies.
After struggling with recovery following her own sexual assault, classically trained ballerina Tyde-Courtney Edwards was inspired to create a welcoming space for Black women and youth to feel safe working through similar trauma and learn to reconnect with their bodies. While healing spaces for trauma victims did already exist, Edwards noticed that they only seemed to benefit women that didn't look like her. In an effort to change this, she founded Ballet After Dark (BAD), a free Baltimore city-based dance school in 2014. BAD provides somatic interventions, trauma-informed care, dance therapy, and other holistic methods to encourage survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence to heal their bodies using movement.
With over 20 years of training with Debbie Allen Dance Academy, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Peabody Conservatory, Joffrey Ballet, Alvin Ailey and other institutions, Edwards deeply understood the transformative powers of dance in inclusive environments. As the Founding Director of BAD, Edwards created a curriculum built on these principles, introducing participants to various elements of self-care while infusing beginner's ballet and athletic conditioning.
The beginner classes teach participants ballet fundamentals such as technique and terminology while empowering them to build community and methods of self-expression. In addition to trauma-informed dance classes, students also receive mental health therapy, financial literacy workshops, self-defense workshops and advocacy training. Edwards’ ultimate goal is to help survivors reprocess, rebuild and reclaim their lives following sexual and domestic trauma.
Harnessing the power of social media has allowed Edwards to grow the business quickly, bringing in donations and national recognition. During the pandemic, she quickly pivoted her classes online, using her social media channels to promote her dance classes through videos, livestreams, stories, and Reels, stating that “the impact virtual classes have had has been extraordinary.” Most recently, her team auditioned for “America’s Got Talent” (they received 3 yes’s!) and hosted a Facebook watch party of their audition on her page, receiving an incredible amount of support from their online community.
Edwards’ ultimate goal is create a community of survivors and equip them with the self-healing tools like dance. Speaking on the programs she states, “We are repurposing [ballet] as a joyful tool to expose underrepresented, low-income survivors and community members here in Baltimore City. We’re creating a well-rounded safe space to restore confidence, empower survivors, and help them to reprocess, rebuild, and reclaim relationships with their bodies.”
To date, the dance therapy cohort has provided resources to over 150 youth and women in Baltimore City. To learn more and make a donation, visit balletafterdark.com.