On Valentine’s Day afternoon, a large group of Islanders — some who have been practicing for weeks — will do a choreographed dance in Vashon town to an upbeat and thumping anthem about women’s empowerment.
Organizers of the event hope this small Vashon faction will be joining at least a billion other men and women around the world to dance to “Break the Chain” on Valentine’s Day and stand up against violence toward women.
“It’s about awareness,” said Amanda Winn, who is organizing the Vashon event. “When the awareness opens people’s minds or their hearts are open, they tend to contribute, so change happens.”
The global movement One Billion Rising is the brainchild of activist and writer Eve Ensler, who is best known for her play “The Vagina Monologues.” Moved by the statistic that one in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime, Ensler put out a call for the same number of people — one billion — to stand up to violence with an original song and dance on Valentine’s Day. The movement went viral, and now cities and groups all over the world are organizing their own events and teaching the dance in preparation for the big day.
Big names from Alicia Keys to the Dalai Lama have pronounced their support of the movement. And so far, more than 100 Islanders have said on Facebook that they’ll attend the Vashon dance, scheduled for 4 p.m. near the intersection in town.
Winn, a business development and marketing strategist who heard of One Billion Rising last fall, said she had originally planned to join the Seattle event, but friends from two different women’s groups encouraged her to bring it to Vashon.
Since then, she said she’s been astonished by the island’s response. Four dance instructors — Claudine Kim-Murphy, Nancy Peet, Sara Van Fleet and Julie Gibson — have lent their time to teach the dance to dozens of men and women. Several organizations have offered their space for classes to be held, and DoVE, Vashon’s anti-domestic violence organization, is covering the cost of creating posters. Lelavision, an island performance group, has created a video on women’s empowerment for the event, joining others uploading their own videos around the world.
Winn said she hopes the One Billion Rising event, on Vashon and beyond, will move people to contribute to efforts to stop violence against women and may even encourage the U.S. Congress to pass the Violence Against Women Act.
“I’m so inspired by the far reaches of this,” she said.
Dance instructors will teach the dance at the Vashon Dance Academy at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Feb. 7; 12:15 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9; 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12; and 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 14. It will also be taught at Prahm tonight at 6:30 p.m. at 6:30 p.m. Wendesday, Feb. 13. It will be taught at the Open Space at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7. Classes last one hour.