Dance is being used by many groups to raise funds, promote awareness, for therapeutic benefits, and to celebrate a variety of causes
Albert Einsten once said, “Dancers are the athletes of God.” Einstein recognized that dance is one of the highest, most emphatic and truest forms of expression. The power of dance lies in the emotions expressed and in its ability to move, reach out, and inspire. If a scientific person such as Einstein, who created the theory of general relativity and founded modern physics, could appreciate dance, it is no surprise that the general public is impacted and inspired by dancers. The inspirational nature and emotional connection people feel from watching dance has been utilized by groups all over the country to advocate for different causes.
Here are five stories of groups using dance to create change, bring awareness, or celebrate a variety of causes:
1. Penn State’s THON dance marathon: Penn State students hit the dance floor on February 15th for 46 hours of breakin’ it down to raise funds to fight pediatric cancer. The tradition started in 1977, and is now the oldest and longest dance marathon in the country. The university’s THON event has collected more than $89 million for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. The charity helps families battling pediatric cancers pay for the the care and treatment that insurance doesn’t cover.
2. The One Billion Rising campaign, launched on Valentine’s Day 2012, began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than one billion women and girls. On Feb. 14, 2013, people across the world came together to simultaneously protest violence against women and to heal through dancing. “One of the things that was discovered…is how much dance heals. These women have been so brutalized, and dance gets them back in touch with their bodies,” the director Rudnick said as she explained the origin of the idea of dance as a vehicle for healing. The campaign created solidarity and safe and free space, through the creativity of dance, for violated women to tell their stories, many for the first time, and heal their trauma by dancing in public, communal open spaces.
3. Confessions Dance Recital at Wheaton College: Zoe’s feet is a dance group at Wheaton College that seeks to glorify God through worshipful dance. Dancers engage their creative gifts in exalting God and carrying out the act of service to encourage, comfort, and edify brothers and sisters in the faith. The group strongly expresses its view against the erroneous notion that a person`s size, age, color or status would impose limits on his or her dancing abilities. If there is anything that all great dancers have in common, it is not the perfect physique, the striking moves, the jaw-dropping stunts, not the style, technique or training; it is passion or enthusiasm. Their annual recital entitled “Confessions” debuted this past weekend on Friday March 1st. One of the coreographers, Jenny Dodrill, commented on how this type of dance is different that most: “As Christians genuinely wanting to worship, it changes the whole perspective of dance. Throughout high school and life, the world tells us dance is for ourselves. Even through stretching and choreographing we know that it’s an act of worship.”
4. Bremer Bank started an annual “Taking Action to End Hunger” campaign to raise awareness and donations for Feeding America and local food banks. Bremer posted the video of their flash mob in St. Paul, Minn., on YouTube and promised to donate $1 for every view up to $10,000 — in addition to matching donations made through the bank’s website. Their efforts have brought in more than $84,000. “Almost 40 percent of the people that use the food services provided by local Feeding America food banks are children under the age of 18 years old,” said Kevin Powers, group president of Bremer Bank. “That number is too high and it is one of the reasons Bremer has been working to end hunger in partnership with local Feeding America food banks for seven years.” One hundred percent of donations collected through the “Taking Action to End Hunger” campaign are distributed to local Feeding America food banks in Bremer communities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota.
5. Every year, New York city’s Department of Youth and Community Development and Nike sponsor a competition called “Step It Up” in which teams of young dancers and steppers put together consciousness-raising campaigns about hot-button issues like domestic violence, gang violence, and H.I.V. prevention. The winning teams get their own website, a $2,500 donation to the cause of their choice, and $2,500 to do with as they wish. The winners are chosen based on a number of determinants: the quality of their campaign; their live performance of their routines, to be held in June at the New Amsterdam Theater; and online votes for the videos they make. The videos from last year’s competition are available at the Step It Up’s Web site. “No Control” receive first place for its message on bullying and violence.
So why do these dances have such an impact on culture? Perhaps it’s witnessing such a huge, diverse group coming together and creating a spectacle of music and dance just for the pleasure of strangers. Perhaps it’s that we are exposed to others experiencing a freedom. Or maybe it’s simply the unity of diverse people.
Dance wakes us up and transforms ordinary moments of commuting, shopping, or walking into moments of joy, celebration, love, and connection. It reminds us all that we are the same inside. Seeing how we are all intertwined warms the heart.
Discover how the gift of dance can be an instrument of change and how you, too, can experience it. If dancers are indeed God`s athletes, show the world a good game. What are you waiting for? DANCE FOR A CAUSE!