Regulars and Shorts, Shall We Dance

Shall We Dance? One Billion Rising

By Amy Brunvand

Organizers rally worldwide to stop violence against women—and to dance. See what’s happening locally.
by Amy Brunvand


One billion women violated is an atrocity. One billion women dancing is a revolution.

Even if you’re not expecting any roses or chocolates, mark your calendar for V-Day, February 14, 2013. According to Eve Ensler, the playwright and peace activist who wrote “The Vagina Monologues,” the “V” stands for more than just “Valen­tine.” It also stands for Victory, Voluptuous, Vulva, Volcanic, Vulnerability, Vultures (she says they serve a positive function by cleaning up the dead) and, of course, Vagina. Ensler’s V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls, and each February she allows “The Vagina Monologues” to be performed royalty-free on college campuses (you can see it at Westminster Col­lege February 7-9). This year for the 15th anniversary of V-Day, Ensler wants to take the celebration of women and the protest against violence out into the streets with an outrageous, disruptive global action called One Billion Rising. “We are inviting, challenging, and calling women and the people who love them to walk out of their homes, schools, jobs to strike and dance,” Ensler says, “To dance with our bodies, our lives, our heart. To dance with our rage and our joy and love. To dance with whoever we want, wherever we can until the violence stops.”

One Billion is not an arbitrary number. Statistics from the United Nations say that during her lifetime one of every three women on the planet will suffer from atrocities such as rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation and sex slavery. That works out to about a billion people. It’s a horrible and frightening number.

You might think such large-scale human tragedy would demand a sober, mournful form of protest, but Ensler explains, “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.”

Dance also offers a path to heal the trauma of bodies injured by rape or torture. “Dance/movement therapy acknowledges the non-verbal roots of all human language, communication, and experience, and therefore may be particularly suited to work with survivors of torture who have literally experienced the unspeakable directly to their bodies.” writes Amber Gray, a therapist who works with torture survivors.

If you need another reason to rise and dance, consider this: In January the Republican majority in the U.S. House blocked re-authorization of the Violence against Women Act which helps protect women from domestic violence and sexual abuse. Why? Because they didn’t want to offer protection to undocumented immigrants, Native Americans or lesbians. Are you mad now? I am.

So here’s the plan on V-Day : Walk out of your daily routine, go out in public and dance. It might sound kind of embarrassing, but you don’t have to do it by yourself. Join an event and lots of other people will be there to dance with you. Look at the website or Facebook event page for details about what to wear, when to show up and what the dancing is going to be like. This global event is going to make a big statement and you definitely want to be a part of it.

One Billion Rising in SLC:

Feb 7-9, 7:30 pm Vagina Monologues. Westminster College. Jewett Center for the performing Arts Courage Theatre, 1840 South 1300 East, SLC. $10. Benefits the SLC Rape Recovery Center. Tickets: or call (801) 832-2457

Feb 14, 12 noon: One Billion Rising Utah. Join the YWCA and other organizations on the south steps of the Utah State Capitol. Wear pink and red and come prepared to DANCE.

Feb 14, 12 noon: Rising With U! University of Utah, Women’s Resource Center and ASUU. 577190662298204/?ref=ts&fref=ts

Feb 14, 7 pm One Billion Rising SLC. Flash Mob@ Draper IKEA. Wear pink, red or white.

Feb 15, 7-9 pm. Centro Civico Mexicana (155 S. 600 W.) Evening reception, live performances, silent auction Proceeds donated to Women of the World,

Find a V-day event near you:

This article was originally published on February 1, 2013.