Who puts the Dance into One Billion Rising?

 

OBR Logo for article on ModemWorld.Me

It’s your Dance Correspondent, R. Crap Mariner.

Coming up on February 14th, it’s One Billion Rising! From their announcement:

For the fifth year, on February 14, 2018, men and women in Second Life will join activists, writers, thinkers, celebrities, and people across the world to Rise, Resist and Unite as a show of unity, individual strength, and the need for change.

The Second Life event will feature a four-region stage where 200 people can come together to dance, surrounded by an area of art installations, an arena for poetry and dramatic productions, and informational exhibits. A variety of performers will play over the 24-hour period and poetry and dramatic events will be held at different times, enabling people all over the world to attend this virtual event no matter their timezone. The regions will have a General maturity rating to allow all residents an opportunity to participate.

That’s the TL;DR, and Inara’s covered all the bigger-picture vision and mission of One Billion Rising, but how does dance figure into it? (Because, after all, I’m a Dance Correspondent, right?)

Instead of just tossing out a few #metoo hashtags and sharing Uma Thurman’s interview on Facebook, I went to the source. I turned to Aelva, the Dance Coordinator for One Billion Rising. She runs The Night Theatre dance group, and I’ve seen her magic and mastery of hand particles in her performances with Shadows Silhouettes, Lady Garden Cabaret, and Elysion’s Luxe Girls, among other groups.

I know I want to know more. So, let’s go exploring, shall we?

Who are you?

The Night Theater - July 29 2017

Before we got into One Billion Rising, I wanted to learn more about the artist in the middle of the drafting table. I asked Aelva about herself and her dance experiences in Second Life. “Well, I did ballet and synchro swimming when I was young. I always had a love for dance, musical, ballet, and theatre. – I was rather odd as a child. But RL me, I can’t handle dancing these days.”

And art itself wasn’t a priority then. “I work in administration. I studied economy, boring, boring, but it got a job that paid the bills, and that was what counted. Arts was not considered something to make a living off. So, you did in your spare time. For fun.”

Club Image - July 16 2017

“When I got into SL, I was starting to get pretty sick RL. I have always loved arts and crafts, but I lost my ability to do them at that point. So SL became my creative outlet.”

It didn’t take her long to find dance as a creative outlet…

“I came across dancing in sl in my first couple of weeks here and got hooked right away,” she said. “I never meant to be on the stage myself, I too much of a recluse for that by nature. But I ended up with too many ideas and I just had to realize them. A friend more or less had to push me on stage.”

And why do you do what you do?

Any why does she dance? Because she has to… “For me, this creativity, the flow of the movements, keep my mind together. It allows me to express and be so many things I otherwise would be too limited to do. It is freedom, sanity, pain-relief, joy and sadness all in one. It is a kind of obsession, I guess. There are just too many things evolving in my mind that have to get out. If I didn’t, I would probably be even more bonkers than I already am.”

In addition to performing with other groups, she has her own dance group called The Night Theatre. “SL dance is my passion. And The Night Theatre is my own Theatre and where my creativity flows free.”

The Night Theater

Creativity flows from moments of inspiration, and where does she find it? Everywhere!

“It won’t leave me alone, damn it!” she says. “If I go shopping, I think in costumes. If I listen to music, I think of possible acts for the songs, and those can have several options. I always loved stories, mythology, fairy tales – so that is what I want to portray. I do love magic, and I do love expression and drama. But I want to do it in my own voice, not mimic somebody else’s vision.

“I get bored doing the same thing. I like using all the tools in the box, all the crayons. But, I think main focus in any act should be the dance choreography and the story that tells. Everything else is an enhancement to that story and to the movement. Enhancement, not distraction. If a choreography is well done, you don’t need much more than a black stage and the dancer and the music.”

Luxe - Le Cirque Des Reves - January 27 2018

OBR

Then, I asked her how she got her start with the One Billion Rising cause. “Well, after performing at Burn one year, many moons ago, I was approached by Saffia (Widdershins) who asked me if I would want to help her bring a dance show to OBR too. She told me about the movement and I read up on the web page links and felt it was something I wanted to be part of. So I grabbed a bunch of dancing friends and set up a show. “That year, it was just one proper dance show. And the Changhigh sisters, and Tansee on particles at 2Lei booth.”

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14 Feb_060

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(Photos: 
Aelva)

And grown it has! “This year we have 6 shows booked during the day at the Dance stage, and Tansee at 2Lei’s booth too. And 2 of the dance shows are variety shows with a mix of dancers.”

(Check the schedule for the performance times… I see MAHAL starting at 6am SLT. And I just got an invite from my friend Vee about the Nouveau Ensemble performing at 4pm SLT, so those groups are pretty excited to be performing on Wednesday. Aelva says the last show should be ending around 6:30pm SLT.)

Hrm...

But with growth, challenges come. “The event itself spans over a full 24 hours on 4 sims, with constant performances, DJs, art exhibits, poetry, always something going on. It means everybody has to work together, cooperate and dive in where it is needed.

With big events like SLB and RFL, there’s weeks to prepare, but not with One Billion Rising. “The sims are not up all that long either. We get access to them about 4 days before the event. I that time we have to decorate the 4 sims, rig the infrastructure and make sure all the performers and artists get installed properly too.”

At the end of the road, it’s worth it for the team. “It is a bit of a marathon that usually ends with a bunch of giggling half awake ladies at midnight when the event ends. They are a pretty funny bunch of ladies. Very different characters but all with the same passion for this movement and it really takes the full team to pull this together.”

Pulling together, supporting each other. That’s what One Billion Rising is about. The challenge of the event logistics never obscures the depth of its meaning:

“I love seeing so many performers come together and bond over a common cause like this It feels like it is an event that matters, that empower us and gives us comfort and hope for a better future. Even if in small ways.”

What does the event mean for you? “I have some bad experiences in my past. It is not a secret. I believe in sharing, with communication about these things and speaking up, we can bring more understanding and knowledge to the world around us. No problem has ever been solved by ignoring it. I also know many of my closest family and friends have similar experiences. And I do this for them, my daughters, and me. To empower, comfort and for hope of a better world for the next generations.”

There are so many stories out there, and One Billion Rising will give many in Second Life an opportunity to share them with others and empower women to defend themselves against would-be aggressors, or see strength in reporting assaults that have happened. Coming together to dance builds trust and shared purpose, and with trust comes solidarity and unity. Because standing alone in the shadows, the longer you wait, the more victims your would-be attacker will prey upon, compounding the guilt and shame.

(Video: Trytofight)

There are so many stories out there, and One Billion Rising will give many in Second Life an opportunity to share them with others and empower women to defend themselves against would-be aggressors, or see strength in reporting assaults that have happened. Coming together to dance builds trust and shared purpose, and with trust comes solidarity and unity. Because standing alone in the shadows, the longer you wait, the more victims your would-be attacker will prey upon, compounding the guilt and shame.

Let’s bring it home!

Thank you, Aelva, it was wonderful to talk to you and learn more about you and your art in the One Billion Rising event, and find strength from you sharing your experience. And I hope that the readers mark their calendars for this epic event, whether it’s to participate in the dances, listen to and read poetry, or to enjoy the art builds. (Group joins and SLURLs will be at OBR’s website when they launch in a few days, okay?)

Not only can you catch Aelva with Elysion’s Luxe Girls and the other dance groups she performs with, but she is also planning events for Fantasy Faire coming up in a few months. So if your dance group has an idea for this year’s event, get in touch with her and let her know what visions you have to share. (I’ll do a follow-up post on Fantasy Faire dance soon, okay? I’m running out of typewriter ribbon.)

Additional Information

FULL DISCLOSURE:
I once built an art piece for OBR back in 2014 when someone mistook me for an artist. Thankfully, fewer people mistake me for an artist these days. It lets me nap a lot more.

So… who wants to be next?

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