by Geri McNiece
A year ago, in conjunction with the 15th anniversary of V-Day, the coordinating home of a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls, they launched their most ambitious campaign to date – One Billion Rising and women rose from around the world. The concept of the campaign was simple. Taking into account that 1 out of 3 women will experience violence in her lifetime, you’re left with the staggering statistic that over 1 billion women on this planet will be impacted by violence. On 2/14/13, V-Day’s 15th Anniversary, all one billion women and those who love them were invited to walk out, to dance, to rise up, and to demand an end to this violence. V-Day wanted the world to see our collective strength, our numbers, our solidarity across the entire world. How do you comprehend and document such a wide-scale global movement? We were invited to film our events and submit them.
Knowing that the hoop has such powerful transformational and healing benefits for us, last year, as a hoop dance instructor, I went into action when I heard about it. I learned the choreography to the event anthem “Break the Chain”, figured out a way to incorporate hoopdance into the mix, and decided to share it with my students, simply hoping they would feel the same way and join me. They were excited to do so and as one billion women rose last year, we rose with our hoops, as did others – and we filmed our version of the 2013 V-day dance. It was a powerful, touching and incredible night.
And now we can witness the result of what transpired on 2/14/13 last year; a short film was put together which premieres this weekend at the Sundance Film Festival. One Billion Rising was directed by Eve Ensler and Tony Stroebel, produced by Eve and V-Day, and features activists in 207 countries and as women rose together and danced to end violence a year ago, we weren’t the only ones with our hoops. Though the hoop dance segment is brief in the film, it is exciting to see and there are others of us with their hoops as well and we’d all love to know who they are. Watch the short film One Billion Rising and join us in rising even higher next month.
When asked about what we can expect on 2/14/14, Eve Ensler explained, “This year we are escalating and deepening the campaign with One Billion Rising for Justice. Justice is about restoring the primacy of connection so that we understand that violence against women is not a personal problem, but connected to other systemic injustices whether they be patriarchal, economic, racial, gender, or environmental.” For 2014 One Billion Rising For Justice is a global call to women survivors of violence and those who love them to gather safely in community outside places where they are entitled to justice -‐ courts, police stations, government offices, colleges, work places, military courts, places of worship, homes. It is a call to survivors to break the silence and release their stories – politically, spiritually, outrageously -‐ through art, dance, marches, ritual, song, spoken word, testimonies and whatever way feels right.
Robyn Brehaut of HoopBloom in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, helped organize a local One Billion Rising event there last year. “We marched from the University of Ottawa campus through downtown to City Hall where we gathered with speakers from a variety of organizations, one being Sisters in Spirit who were bringing awareness to the countless First Nation girls that have gone missing across the country. The mayor of Ottawa came to speak as well and it was televised. Then we danced. And we hooped. It was beautiful and powerful.” It was so powerful, she trained to become a volunteer at the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre and it made a major impact on her hoop work. “For my personal journey, hooping is playing a massive role in healing and empowering women. We’ve been holding workshops for women to meet in intentional healing circles, to share and move what needs moving and then use the art of hoop dance to transcend, shift, and heal. Setting the intention before a hoop practice can be a really powerful experience and it connects women in a powerful way. It allows a safe space for women affected by abuse to begin to create a healthier relationship to their body and allows the power of play and joy to begin the healing process.” And she’s taking part of spinning things even higher in 2014.
Leona Rodrigues of Hoopgaga in Mumbai, India, is rising for 2014. She explained, ““I am ashamed to say that I did not actively participate last year. But I have already signed up as an event organizer this year and I plan to use hoop dance to rise! I am still planning out the details and have contacted people who will help me out. The basic plan is to gather a big group of hoopers and non-hoopers and spread the message through hooping at Oval Maidan here in Mumbai.” For those who may not be aware, it is a historic and very significant location for public gatherings in the country. In 2012, international attention turned to India when a 23-year-old woman was gang-raped and murdered on a moving bus. Lawmakers subsequently increased the sentence for rape from 10 to 20 years. Despite India’s recent initiatives, however, sexual violence remains very real. On Tuesday a 51-year-old Danish women was gang-raped in New Delhi.
When asked about the role hoop dance can play in ONE BILLION RISING, Leona told us, “You may know from the news that Mumbai has had its share of violence and injustice towards women, and I hope to use social networking to spread the message about coming out and release through hoop dance. I do believe that hooping is a powerful form of expression and release, which is exactly what this movement is all about. Anyone who’s been hooping for some time knows that all the energy and love you give to the hoop always comes back to you. I have seen firsthand how the hoop has transformed women. I’ve been teaching for about a year now; I teach in Mumbai, which is a very liberal place when it comes to women and their freedoms, as opposed to a lot of other smaller towns and villages in India. Given this, I have still met women who walk in shy, timid, all covered up and conscious about moving their body too much, possibly because we come from a culture that does not approve of women over a certain age going all out to express themselves using their body, God forbid through hooping and hoop dance. And I have seen them walking out of class, beaming and confident after having mastered the hoop, and looking so much happier and younger! And I secretly know that they’re now in a better position to tackle anything that comes their way. I think bringing hoop dance to the One Billion Rising movement is a great step!!! I’m all for it!”
What will you be doing for 2/14/14? Here in Arlington, Texas, USA, we’re hosting a “virtual” screening party of the short film soon utilizing a Facebook event we’ve invited everyone to attend in order to promote V-day and it’s mission and the transformational power of hooping. At the event we’ll also be highlighting the V-day music and choreography so all can learn it. Then, on V-day 2014, we will be doing the dance with our hoops downtown at lunch hour. And we invite you to rise where you live. Even if you can’t create or attend an event, I encourage everyone to dance with your hoop and RISE next month anyway. There are so many ways to rise and so many who are rising! This is not a day to be silent or to be still. Make plans to get up, grab your hoop and dance! Show the world you are strong, bold and empowered. There are many resources available here to help make it happen and if you want to let others know where and how you are rising please do so in the comments below.
We hoopers know how powerful and transformational our plastic rings are for finding our deeper self, for comforting us, and for allowing us to RISE at anytime, on any given day, so think about sharing more of that with the world on V-Day 2/14/14 this year. Together we are rising!
Geri McNiece of Around Joy and the HoopShack discovered the hoop in 2007 and now, at 54, has a passionate career she simply loves every day. For several years she has been sharing the hoop love in her community, at corporate wellness/fitness centers and with local school districts & charitable organizations. She lives in Arlington, Texas, USA.