Hands are for Holding®

The Hands are for Holding® program is a youth-centered workshop series which uses dance and movement to engage in conversations about healthy relationships, boundaries, respect, and choice in everyday interactions.

Developed in 2014 in close partnership with Day One and the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic & Gender-Based Violence, the Hands are for Holding® (HAFH) program has reached over 35,000 young people, and over 190 schools and organizations, across the nation.

Appropriate for grades 3-12, HAFH is offered in a series of 2-5 workshops with the same group of young people that address the socio-emotional health of young people, tailored to their age group. Each workshop shares a choreographed dance performance followed by conversation, resource sharing, and participatory opportunities to create a well-rounded educational experience.

Each Hands are for Holding (HAFH) Workshop Series Includes:

  • 2-5 student workshops that use a trauma informed lens to focus on socio-emotional learning topics which can create a safer space for deeper conversations and trust-building.
  • 2-4 teaching artists with diverse backgrounds and extensive experience in both the dance field and working with young people. In addition, all teaching artists are trained in Gibney’s research-proven movement model for self-expression and self-care.
  • A workshop plan that is customized with staff and teachers to address the specific needs of the school community.
  • Resources to share with students and the school community around teen dating violence and mental health, and where to access support.
  • An opportunity to witness professional dancers perform high quality contemporary dance.
  • Opportunities to embody healthy relationship concepts through accessible and inclusive creative movement activities that can be incorporated into the everyday classroom.


The HAFH program can be tailored to fit the needs and interests of each school, with a variety of activities and dances choreographed to explore specific topics:

  • “Connections” covers the topic of cyber-abuse and how to support a friend who is experiencing harassment or other forms of violence.
  • “Boundaries” conveys how boundaries and consent can shift from person to person, and how to communicate with and respect each other.
  • “Isolation” addresses bullying and how to support a friend who is being bullied.
  • “Side by Side” presents two similar duets performed simultaneously, but with different dynamics, demonstrating the clear dichotomies between healthy and unhealthy relationships.
  • Relationship with Selfaddresses themes of mental health, relationship to technology, and strategies for supporting yourself and others


“I discovered that I could use movement to express my emotions and let out all the stress or anxiety I had bottled up inside me.”

Student Participant

“Thank you all so much for your support for our students and our community. We heard rave reviews from our staff who participated in the session and we appreciated your arts-focused approach to SEL .”

Assistant Principal at Partner School


For more information and to bring a HAFH workshop series to your community, please contact Will Noling at will@gibneydance.org or at 646-837-6809.



  • Workshop Series: 2-5 workshops with the same group of young people
  • Duration of each workshop: 45-60 minutes
  • Availability: Monday through Friday, 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Number of participants per workshop: Min. of 5 – Max. of 80
  • Cost (offered on sliding scale): $1,250 – $2,000 per workshop
  • Each series also includes:
    2 virtual planning meetings with leadership, staff and/or educators
    1 virtual debrief meeting following the series with leadership, staff and/or educators

Open the HAFH Student Workshop Series flyer here


The HAFH Professional Development (PD) Workshop explores similar themes to the HAFH Student Workshops, but from the perspective of an educator. Through a combination of choreographed dance performance followed by conversation, resource sharing, and participatory activities, the HAFH PD Workshop will support educators by:

  • Building shared language around healthy relationships topics 
  • Sharing available resources and discussing strategies for supporting young people
  • Exploring potential ways to implement embodiment activities in the classroom
  • Offering self-care tools for educators that might be applicable to everyday life


  • Duration of workshop: 60 minutes 
  • Availability: Monday through Friday, 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Number of participants per workshop: Min. of 5 – Max. of 80
  • Cost: $1,000 per workshop

Open the HAFH Professional Development Workshop flyer here


The Hands are for Holding® program has been offered in the following NYC schools:

Academy for Environmental Leadership
ACCION Academy
Achievement First North Brooklyn Prep Middle School
August Martin HS
Baruch College Campus High School
Brighter Choice Community School
Bronx Academy of Letters
Bronx Bridges High School
Bronx Dance Academy
Brooklyn Gardens Elementary School
Brooklyn High School for the Arts
Brooklyn International High School
Brooklyn School for Social Justice
Brownsville Academy High School
Channel View High School
Coalition School for Social Change
E.S.M.T. IS 190
East Flatbush Research Community School
Edward R. Murrow High School
Ella Baker School
Entrada Academy
Essex Street Academy
Fannie Lou Hamer Middle School
Fordham Leadership Academy
Forsyth Satellite Academy High School
Frederick Douglass Academy
Gramercy Arts High School
Great Oaks Charter School
Hamilton Heights
Harlem Village Academy
Harvest Collegiate High School
Harvey Milk High School
Health Opportunities High School
Herbert H. Lehman High School
IS 117 Joseph Wade
IS 171 Patrick Henry Prep School
IS 217 School of Performing Arts
IS 228 David A Boody
IS 281 Joseph B Cavallaro
IS 291 Roland Hayes
IS 392
IS 584
IS 61 Leonardo Da Vinci
JHS 98 Herman Ridder
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School
Khalil Gabran International
Lower Manhattan Academy of the Arts
Lyons Community School
Marie Curie High School
Middle School for Art and Philosophy (MS 588)
MS 202 Robert H. Goddard
MS 217 Robert Van Wyck
MS 258 Community Action School
MS 301 Satellite East
MS 328
MS 340 North Star Academy
MS 377 Renaissance School of the Arts
MS 447 The Math & Science Exploratory School
MS 53
North Bronx School of Empowerment
Orchard Collegiate Academy
Professional Pathways High School
PS 125 Ralphe Bunche
PS 140 The Eagle School
PS 154 Jonathan D. Hyatt
PS 163Q Flushing Heights
PS 165 Ida Posner
PS 165Q
PS 169 Sunset Park School
PS 188 The Island School
PS 194 Countee Cullen
PS 196
PS 199 Frederick Wachtel School
PS 2 The Alfred Zimberg School
PS 201Q
PS 202K
PS 21 Crispus Attuck
PS 239Q
PS 298
PS 299 Thomas Warren Field
PS 306 The Ethan Allen Community School
PS 32
PS 330Q
PS 343 Peck Slip School
PS 38 Roberto Clemente Learning Complex
PS 463 Urban Scholars Community School
PS 50 The Vito Marcantonio School
PS 536
PS 54 Magnet School
PS 56 The Lewis H. Latimer School
PS 59 William Floyd
PS 67 Charles A. Dorsey School
PS 68Q
PS 81Q
PS 91Q
PS 92 Bronx School
PS 92Q The Harry T. Stewart School
PS 94 Henry Longfellow
PS 96 Global Kids
PS/IS 171 Patrick Henry
PS/IS 178Q The Holliswood School
PS/IS 226
PS/IS 284
PS/IS 686 Brooklyn School of Inquiry
PS/MS 161 Pedro Albizu Campos
PS/MS 194
PS/MS 200 The Magnet School for Global Studies and Leadership
PS/MS 5 The Port Morris School of Community Leadership
Riverdale Avenue Community School
Riverdale Avenue Middle School
Russel Sage JHS 190
Stuyvesant High School
Success Academy Harlem East
Talent Unlimited High School
The Urban Assembly Unison School
Tilden Educational Campus
Townsend Harris High School
University Neighborhood High School
University Neighborhood Middle School
William Cullen Bryant High School

The HAFH program receives generous support from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, the New York City Council, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation, and the Ready Foundation.

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