From public flash mobs to live performance, dance activism can play a powerful role in communicating experiences that are sometimes difficult to put into words. Dance can also invigorate a community and foster positive energy and shared exuberance.

“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 any time, 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

One Billion Rising is one of the biggest mass actions to end violence against women. On 14 February each year people across the world have come together “to express their outrage, strike, dance, and RISE in defiance of the injustices women suffer, demanding an end at last to violence against women”. It also has a growing number of young people taking part.

Urban Bush Women is a Brooklyn-based dance company that “seeks to bring the untold and under-told histories and stories of disenfranchised people to light through dance. We do this from a woman-centered perspective and as members of the African Diaspora community in order to create a more equitable balance of power in the dance world and beyond.”

UBW runs a Summer Leadership Institute where you can learn and experience dance-making, community engagement and activism in an amazing group of 100 intergenerational artist-activists.

Want to use dance as part of your activism?
  • FLASH MOB! – Choreograph a short dance piece, post it on YouTube, send out link and ask folks to learn it and show up at a specific time & place and do the dance together. After the dancing, use the energy and stillness to discuss the issue you have brought people together to talk about
  • STREET PERFORMANCE! – Dance in a public space to draw attention and gather a crowd to hear your message.
  • TEACH A DANCE WORKSHOP! – (if you’re a dance teacher/ choreographer) offer your services to a local school, nursing home, community center or prison and getpeople on their feet and moving together.

Find out more and take part in the next One Billion Rising! View the multiple versions of the dance Break the Chain from different countries as communities make it their own.

For more on the power of dance, see Youth Dance Wales and Community Dance.

See the annual Big Dance festival, where people of all ages learn a piece of original choreography, make it their own, then perform it wherever they are as part of a worldwide performance day. See winning young streetdance groups perform at Pride Cymru.

For more resources on how to use the arts for social change, check out, ART BECAME THE OXYGEN: A GUIDE TO ARTISTIC RESPONSE: A Guide for Artists, Emergency Management Agencies, Funders, Policy-Makers, and Communities Responding to Natural and Civil Emergencies

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