Body Spirits Unite
By: Sheila K. Collins, PhD.
As a dancer I’ve always been aware of a body spirit connection which travels across miles and political borders. I experienced this connection strongly while dancing in my Zumba class the other day. I’d been following the story of the women in Egypt in our local newspaper and as I was shaking tightness and tension out of my own body in the dance studio, a picture of the women demonstrators in Tahrir Square came to me.
March 8th was International Women’s Day and demonstrations and celebrations honoring women were being held all over the world. The Egyptian women were demonstrating on behalf of women, to obtain equality and justice in their new government. According to that morning’s newspaper report, the women were encircled by male supporters who attempted to protect them. But at some point things began to go wrong. Other men, (apparently immature boys), broke through the line and began sexually assaulting the women, grabbing their crotches and breasts. The women were silenced and retreated.
Remembering this newspaper story, I began dancing on behalf of those women. As I did the Zumba steps, moving my hips became a prayer that Egyptian women, indeed women all over the world, might be able to move theirs, unencumbered by fear and the cultural constraints in their countries. As I stomped my feet, I began sending messages of warning to those immature boys, and anyone else who believes that a free democracy in the new Egypt or anywhere else is possible without including the women.
“It took the United States 144 years to allow women to vote,” I recounted in my mind as I continued stomping my feet. “And we’re still working on the inequalities and vestiges of slavery.” Stomp.
“But we know that none of us is free till all of us are free.” Stomp. Stomp.
I thought of the book I’d been reading, Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra: A Life, and made this suggestion to the boys, “Go back to the golden age of your own heritage when women were educated, had legal rights, and held property.” Stomp. Stomp. Stomp.
“And make no mistake, the women ancestors of Egypt, and girls and women living round the world are watching what you do.” Stomp, Stomp, Stomp.
“And I promise you, we will facebook and text and tweet and skype and dance on behalf of all women; including your sisters, daughters, wives, and mothers.” Stomp. Stomp. Stomp.
Sheila K. Collins directs InterPlay Pittsburgh and Wing & A Prayer Pittsburgh Players, an improvisational troupe using the arts for noble purposes. Visit her website www.sheilakcollins.com