Dancing insists we take up space, and though it has no set direction, we go there together. Dance is dangerous, joyous, sexual, holy, disruptive, and contagious and it breaks the rules. It can happen anywhere, at anytime, with anyone and everyone, and it’s free. Dance joins us and pushes us to go further and that is why it’s at the center of One Billion Rising.
Eve Ensler, V-Day Founder and Artistic Director
When I witness social movements that fundamentally are examples of Creative Activism, I feel grateful that we are a species gifted with incredible powers of the Creative Arts. Look at what has been achieved by enrolling the global community to take a boogie against violence towards women and girls! Incredible! A stellar example of the collective power of intention, matched with an ancient ritual of self-expression in the Creative, Embodiment and Sacred Art of dance.
My immediate response as The Babyfacedassassin asks: Why can’t our mental health care system take a page out of Ensler’s Vagina Monologues and One Billion Rising, and integrate dancing into the recovery plans, of people pinned down by psychological despair?
How can the system not recognise the transformative, healing potential that dance facilitates? Is it not enough to see how naturally people have been drawn to transform a wound of humanity, with one of humanities very own tools for transformation? Wouldn’t insisting we take up more space, going there together, pushing us further and exploring the dangerous, joyous, sexual, holy, disruptive and contagious realms of being human– as Eve Ensler spells out of the qualities inherent in dancing – wouldn’t that inspire mental health and wellbeing in the lives of people overcoming psychological, emotional and spiritual challenges?
One Billion Rising touched me beyond what it represents. Firstly, as a woman, I felt the rise against violence prompt a groundswell of positive change, that will see an end to this unacceptable behaviour. Secondly, as a woman who has self-harmed, the rise challenged me. It’s no different, private violence – it’s harmful, painful and never deserved, but, for some us, it’s the only way torment of the inner-world can have the final say.
It was challenging for me to become a one, of the One Billion Rising. How could I dance against violence when I was a violent woman myself? Of course I wanted to break this chain in the name of sisterhood and peace but a deeply saddened, ashamed and lonely history of committing self-harm insisted I withdraw.
As a (recovered) self-harmer, I am both the perpetrator and receiver of violence. This duality evokes a dance between me and my inner-slayer: a sleak and cunning alias with an impulsive strike! My soul, betrayed and forgiven, time and time again, is commonly silenced more so than acts of violence by men who have harmed me. My own battle scars are awkward; too revealing and unacceptable. You might say, forget about yourself for once Charlotte, rise with the uprising of your sisters?! So I did, in my own way, remaining connected to but with fortified intention.
With all due respect for the One Billion Rise that awakened the planet, I could not overlook my complicated place in it. Infected by the rise, I took my inner-slayer in my stride, and cleared a renegade dance-floor in my home. To bust a move to my own groove, stylized by my affiliation with a violent temper. A supple, awkward tango moving as much relief as there was grief – and I bust ‘em moves to unchain freedom from myself, as slayer.
My private dance re-awakened how that private violence was laid to rest in my past once and for all. When I began to address this issue with my psychiatrist, we agreed that attending a weekly improvisation dance space would be far more progressive, transformative, enjoyable and mood-enhancing, than the generic group therapy prescribed by the clinic. I called them my Dance Prayers and I released them every week, to help let go of the pain I caused my body and soul that had been punctured by my wild rage channeled inwards.Channeled outward is always best, supported and creatively, hence the untamable flag I raise for the use of dance in therapeutic settings.
Thank you, Eve Ensler, and the One Billion risers stamping out the course of violence – may women live with the trust that they are safe. And please, if you self-harm or know a friend who struggles with private violence, please reflect on and share this blog. Secrecy’s a slave of the inner-slayer.
All it takes is a whisper and we can speak of our self-harm, a sensitive and buried topic that needs to be addressed, with open hearts, compassion and an unwavering belief in the individual: that they can have the final word and tango with their slayer; self-love in creative action puts it to the test!