On Thursday 14 February 2013 Oxford dancer Jane Connelly attended the V-Day Oxford Rising Flashmob at Bonn Square, part of the One Billion Rising movement that happened globally that day.  She writes:

So how did I get there? An article in The Guardian mentioned One Billion Rising; I looked up the website and the Flashmob instructions by Debbie Allen (choreographer from the Fame movie and TV series; “cos fame costs and this is where you start paying!”). I agreed with the concept of using dance as a weapon against rape and violence; I was hooked and knew that I wanted to be part of this! I responded to the email call to find local organisers, and that led to Oxford Rising in Bonn Square at 1.30pm on Valentine’s Day.

One Billion rising is the brainchild of Eve Ensler (author of The Vagina Monologues), and is about one billion women rising en masse in every country to end violence against women. The concept is simple, just to get everybody – women, men, children – dancing in the street.  It was a call for the one billion women and all the men who love them to walk out of their jobs, schools, offices, homes on Feb 14, 2013 and strike, rise and dance!

Risings happened in 205 countries. These included all 7,000 islands of the Philippines, over 50 cities in Turkey, 100 risings in Italy, 135 risings in UK, thousands in North America, approximately 25 million in Bangladesh and even more in India.

I felt that it was a local way to help attain a global aim. Oxford Rising consisted of approximately 60 flashmob dancers, 110 people at the speaker event and a crowd of around 400 people watching, many of whom also joined in.

There have been some horrendous reports of violence against women this year. Malala Yousafzai shot for demanding that girls should be educated in Pakistan’s Swat Valley; the gang rape, and death, of Jyoti Singh in Delhi; the gang rape in Steubenville, Ohio; Operation Bullfinch, here in Oxford. And on the very day of the Rising, Paralympian Gold Medalist Oscar Pistorius shot his girlfriend dead.

“Today the dancing begins and with this dancing we express our outrage and joy and our firm global call for a world where women are free and safe and cherished and equal. Dance with your body, for your body, for the bodies of women and the earth.”

I’m a dancer so using dance was just the best way in my opinion!  I stood at the back and we did the routine through once followed by two more songs, we then did the routine again. The choreography was simple and enjoyable, the atmosphere was good, supportive, and fun! That final moment of raising the right arm and then lowering it while pointing forward was very powerful.   It was all very well organised, the structure really worked and after a week of extreme cold, rain, sleet and snow, the sun shone and I didn’t wear my gloves or coat outside for the first time in months…

Dance in the face of your oppressors! If rape is a non-verbal method of communicating hatred, surely dancing is the perfect protest?!

So see you same time next year?!!! Or can we hope that it will no longer be necessary?

Jane Connelly

Some links:

One Billion Rising:  http://onebillionrising.org/

Flashmob instructions:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fwv16dtUvYM

Oxford Rising:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JTjyIc3RY8

http://www.facebook.com/OneBillionRisingOxfordRising

To donate to Oxford Rape Crisis:  http://www.justgiving.com/onebillionrisingoxford

JustTextGiving: you can text your donation to 70070 using the code: OXRI50 (Sample format: OXRI50 £5 70070).

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