We'd just arrived in Lilongwe, the economic capital of Malawi Africa. It was 2007 and forty or so InterPlayers from various cities in the United States had been invited to a party that was being given in our honor. We were driven to a house in a residential part of the city and as we walked up the driveway, a dozen or so women in colorful garb, danced and sang to welcome us.
As we turned the corner into the back yard we were greeted by a dozen or so men, dressed in matching headgear, dancing and singing their welcome to us.
The experience was one of being a celebrity, and the dancing and music told us, (though we couldn't understand the language), that we were being honored, that our arrival was a big deal worth celebrating. Several years later, I was hosting some young people in my home who were visiting Pittsburgh from South Africa. They were part of the program Infinite Family that connects African teenagers with adult mentors in the U.S through the Internet. http://www.infinitefamily.org/
Remembering my experience in Lilongwe, I invited the local Pittsburgh people to join me in dancing and singing to welcome the African youth. Admittedly, this was quite a stretch for many of my local guests, but we all have a fun time and our young African guests were thrilled. It was clear that they felt honored and properly welcomed.
Dance has always been an important part of my life, although not always supported by the cultures and sub-cultures I've been a part of. Dance connects me with other people and with parts of myself. Dance jumps over language barriers, not need for translation, the moves are the message, when you see them and when you do them. I can be in a bad mood when I begin my Zumba class but I can't leave in that same state of mind. Dancing, a natural anti-depressant lifts my spirits and gives me a higher energy level for the remainder of the day. That, and the fact that I want to dance to bring about the kind of world we all want to live in, are the reasons I'll be in Pittsburgh's Market Square with hundreds of likeminded folks on February 14th, Valentine's Day, performing the flash dance, Break the Chain, choreographed by Debbie Allen, to a song by Tena Clark.
One Billion Rising, Eve Ensler's February 14th global event that involves 197 countries aims to use dance to bring about the end of violence against women. Eve sees this event as the beginning of a new world. Since one billion women and girls are likely to experience violence in their lifetime, she sees dance as a way of breaking out of the "cage of intimidation that has kept women's bodies in prison." This dance is a celebration of women by women and the men who love them, as we dance and demand an end to violence against women worldwide.
Why Dance? Writer Alice Walker provides an articulate answer. "If one billion people rise to dance together they will get to that place that is our birthright, that feeling we generate in ourselves of love." Emma Goldman has said, "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution." But when we share that fierce love and determination we get through dancing, we become the revolution.
|Alice Walker: Dance is Love - One Billion Rising |
|Authors- Alice Walker|