‘Billion Rising’ event seeks to break the chain of violence

A revolution, a catalyst, an invitation to rise, a demand for justice — these are a few of the descriptions offered by the global One Billion Rising campaign for the worldwide event Saturday (Feb. 14).

Laura Bulkin
Posted 2/12/15

A revolution, a catalyst, an invitation to rise, a demand for justice — these are a few of the descriptions offered by the global One Billion Rising campaign for the worldwide event Saturday (Feb. 14).

The roots of the campaign can be traced …

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‘Billion Rising’ event seeks to break the chain of violence

A revolution, a catalyst, an invitation to rise, a demand for justice — these are a few of the descriptions offered by the global One Billion Rising campaign for the worldwide event Saturday (Feb. 14).

Posted

A revolution, a catalyst, an invitation to rise, a demand for justice — these are a few of the descriptions offered by the global One Billion Rising campaign for the worldwide event Saturday (Feb. 14).

The roots of the campaign can be traced back to 1998, when playwright Eve Ensler began offering local theater groups around the world the rights to perform her ground-breaking play, “The Vagina Monologues,” and to use the proceeds to fund shelters, rape crisis centers, and education to end violence in their own communities.

In Taos, dance rehearsals are planned Friday (Feb. 13), 5:30 p.m., at AuraFitness, 1337 Gusdorf Road and at the Taos Academy of Dance Arts, 2 Upper Las Colonias Road.

On the day of the event, participants are asked to assemble for a “flash mob dance” at 2 p.m. in Kit Carson Park, 211 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, and to wear red, black, or pink. The dance then moves to the John Dunn House shops, to Twirl Play Space, and finally to Taos Plaza for a community celebration. All are welcome.

The first “V-Day” event was a single performance in New York; today, there are nearly 6,000 annual shows. In the past 17 years, V-Day shows and benefits have raised more than $100 million.

In 2013, in response to the staggering statistic that one in every three women and girls (well over a billion worldwide) will be raped or beaten in her lifetime, Ensler stated she felt that more needed to be done, and One Billion Rising was born. It quickly grew into a global expression of commitment to ending violence against women. With millions of participants in over 200 countries, it is by far the largest such action in human history.

Monica Walker was one of the grassroots organizers of the first Taos celebration in 2013, along with Genevieve Oswald. “I became involved as an organizer for this event because I was tired of my sisters and friends having to deal with atrocities done to them in silence and shame,” Walker said.

Taos’ Community Against Violence (CAV) has also filled a central role in the campaign, and serves as host of the 2015 event. One Billion Rising is “a natural fit with our mission statement,” says CAV Educator Leah Trujillo. “It’s also a wonderful opportunity for us to reach out in a positive way. We may sometimes be seen as a ‘bearer of bad news,’ but this day is about power and celebration, about showing that we’re still here.”

Participants have been coming together for weeks to learn and practice this year’s flash-mob dance. Set to Tina Clark’s song “Break the Chain,” it was specifically choreographed for the campaign, and the co-organizers of the 2015 Taos event both have strong dance backgrounds.

Carlos Unzueta has been inspiring Taoseños to move their bodies in his Zumba classes since 2012. “To be part of something that’s happening all around the world, to stand up and say out loud that abuse and discrimination against women needs to stop — it’s a powerful feeling,” Unzueta said. “We need to be fair to everyone, whether the issue is equal pay, freedom to marry, or freedom from violence. I see more awareness and positive change happening, and it’s great to be part of that.”

Julia Daye, before relocating here from New York, founded “Movement is Free,” based in the belief that the personal empowerment of dancing the body is the innate right of all people. “For myself as a survivor — and really for every girl who lives through that moment when you start to look like a woman and your world suddenly starts to include threat — I’ve felt fortunate that dance has always been a way to come back and reclaim my body,” Daye said.

Trujillo also spoke of her experience as a survivor, and how the process of learning the choreography for “Break the Chain” — moving from initial awkwardness and frustration to capacity and joy — mirrored the process of healing. She brings that personal understanding to her work with CAV. “The hardest thing to do for someone? Listen, and believe. It’s the hardest, the simplest, and the most essential.”

Everyone involved with One Billion Rising emphasizes the inclusiveness and openness of the event. “This is not just for women,” says Daye. “It is for everybody. Whether you come to dance, drum, sing, or just stand on the sidelines, your presence is powerful. Showing up is a rising in itself.”

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