EMPOWERMENT THROUGH DANCE

THE ONE BILLION RISING MOVEMENT
By Leigh Mills

IT’S A STARTLING STATISTIC. One in three women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. Since the worldwide population is around 7 billion, that means more than 1 billion women will endure an assault, And that’s where One Billion Rising got its name.

It’s a worldwide campaign to end violence against women and girls, started in 2013 by Eve Ensler, the author of “”The Vagina Monologues.” A central part of the campaign is a dance flash mob performed all over the world on Valentine’s Day. And for two local women, it was the catalyst for the perfect collaboration.

“As a dancer, knowing the power of moving and coming together and dancing in public was so striking to me,” explains choreographer and dance educator Dianne Brakarsh, “I knew immediately that I had to take that on and organize them.”

“I was thrilled with the individual power I experienced in my own body and this collective power of women standing up to abuse. It was amazing,” adds fellow flash mobber and Hancock Center dance/movement therapist Ann Wingate, “but it also struck me that some women weren’t quite actualizing the movement. I wanted to help women connect even further with their power.”

The two started working together to support the movement here in Madison, “They’ve developed a workshop called “Empowerment trough Movement and Song.” Brakarsh teaches participants the choreography that was created to go along with One Billion Rising’s anthem, “Break the Chain.” “Then Wingate uses dance/ movement therapy approaches to help the group become more aware of their personal connection to empowerment and self-respect,

“Dance can be powerful and also elusive,” explains Wingate. This helps women connect more deeply.”

This Valentine’s Day, Wingate and Brakarsh are offering their programming at an event for women who are served by the YWCA residential program, ARC Community Services for women, Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS), Unidos, Centro Hispano, the Goodman Community Center and the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center. But anyone can take part in the citywide public dance flash mob that follows, “The pair is even hosting a few public rehearsals to help people learn the choreography,

“To date we’ve put on 16 flash mobs for the past three V-Days as well as at other times to draw attention to various issues affecting women and girls in this area,” says Brakarsh. “It [the campaign] has grown to include not only injustice based on sex, but also based upon race, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or socioeconomic status.”

Additional resources: onebillionrising.org, hancockcenter.net, movingfromwithin.net.

Learn the One Billion Rising flash mob dance at BRAVA’s THRIVE Conference Feb. 13, where Brakarsh and Wingate will train participants so they can join the Madison area’s portion of the global flash mob dance Feb. 14. Details at BRAVAmagazine.com.

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