Berkshire Residents Dance Against Sexual Violence

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Karen Allison taught the 'Break the Chain Dance.'

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Dozens of area residents fought against sexual violence Thursday by dancing.

WAM Theater, Human/Animal Violence Education Network and the Elizabeth Freeman Center teamed up to throw a dance party — joining millions of others across the globe in the One Billion Rising movement.

The dance party was one of many events in Berkshire County coordinated with the global movement to protest sexual abuse.

One Billion Rising was started by Eve Ensler as a call to action to show strength in numbers. It coincides with V-Day, which juxtaposes Valentine's Day with raising money and awareness for sexual violence victims.

"Through dancing, it is our way to be part of that global revolution," WAM Theater's Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven said.

The idea is that one billion women will be beaten or raped in their lifetime and the events rally men and women to made a stand against it.

"This is our movement," Janis Broderick, executive director of the Elizabeth Freeman Center, said. "If we want real change it is going to be us who makes it happen."

Organizers performed readings of Ensler's work and taught the attendees the "Break the Chain Dance" gathering room above Spice Dragon on North Street. The dance was to cap off the night for those participating in events across the county.

"The idea was that all these things would happen during the day and then end here," Ginhoven said.


Janis Broderick rallied the attendees to take action to fight against sexual violence.

Additionally, Thursday was also the kick off to the city's 10X10 Arts Festival so the dance was incorporated as part of the festival. Ginhoven said the dance is a "one-time thing" because the days happened to match up.

Any proceeds — beyond paying for the event itself — will be split between the Elizabeth Freeman Center and WAM. Sue Birn, president of the center's board of trustees, said "fun" events like dances help spread awareness to more people.

"It brings a lot of people out," Birns said, calling it a "celebration of women's lives."

Birns said red arm bands were passed out during the day to help further spread awareness of sexual violence. The arm bands also acted as "a way for people to feel connected to the movement."

Also calling for the end to violence against women, Mayor Daniel Bianchi declared Thursday as One Billion Rising Day in Pittsfield. Bianchi addressed the crowd saying he is "hopeful that the 21st century" will change things.

Tags: arts festival,   awareness event,   elizabeth freeman center,   fundraiser,   

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