Dancing is when you rise above worlds, tearing your heart into pieces and giving up your soul.

 –Rumi

Dancing to change the world – does the idea seem a bit grandiose to you? It did to me too at first blush.

But each day I see a little more clearly how the dance we choreograph – step by measured step – through life’s ever-changing rhythms is the world.

Mallika Sarabhai’s Ted Talk recently forced me to reconsider the power of the arts.  Her video (embedded below) takes less than 20 minutes to watch.  If you are strapped for time, the first 5 minutes alone are quite enlightening.

Last May I had the pleasure of dancing in Shimmy Mob 2012 with the Memphis group.  Shimmy Mob is an international flash mob event that raises awareness and funds for women’s and children’s shelters.

The video below will give you some idea of what this event is like.  It is a “mash up” of the dancers across the world who participated.

So why raise awareness and funds for these shelters?

Consider the sobering statistics:

Every 15 seconds a woman in America is battered (UN Study on the Status of Women, 2000). Almost a third of female homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner (FBI, Uniform Crime Reports, 2001).

Only about a quarter of rapes or attempted rapes are reported to the police (U.S. Justice Department). Many victims of rape do not report violent acts against them because they are ashamed, fearful of not being believed, or afraid of further violence. Of the reported rapes in the U.S., around 18% of females have survived a completed or attempted rape. I use the word females here instead of women because children make up a large proportion of this number: 12% were younger than age 12 when they were first raped and nearly 30% were between the ages of 11-17 (National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2010).

Of course this is not just a “female problem.” Boys raised in violent homes are 10 times more likely than those raised in non-violent homes to later abuse their spouses (Family Violence Interventions for the Justice System, 1993). In 2010, of the 200,000 rapes or sexual assaults that occurred in the U.S., around 15,020 of those were among males (2010 National Crime Victimization Survey, Department of Justice).

Numbers offer a depersonalized, abstract answer to the “why?” question. For additional answers, you might consider listening to the voices of individuals who have experienced violence personally.  I recently read two vastly different and fascinating perspectives from self-proclaimed “predatory teen-aged girls.” These perspectives, which can be found HERE and HERE reveal two truths which seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum.  There again is that paradoxical tension, which is, in the words of Parker Palmer, the “power that wants to pull [the] heart open to something larger than itself.”  It’s enough to make your head spin if you think about it.

As for me, I’ll be dancing because my head looks pretty ridiculous spinning without the rest of my body.

If you want to join us in the dance for this cause, registration is now open to participate in this year’s mob.  It will be held on World Belly Dance Day, (yes there really is such a thing) which falls on Saturday, May 11, 2013 this year. The choreography is beautiful and accessible to beginners.  You do not have to have belly dance experience to participate.  Check out the website shimmymob.com for more information about how you can join us.

This year locally we will have team leaders in Memphis (Lucie) and in Southaven (Penny).

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

–Margaret Mead

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