Bullying takes all forms these days: technological, physical, emotional, verbal, sexual and financial.
And it’s not only about helping kids and teens who experience the widespread phenomenon. That population can grow into adults who haven’t been taught to recognize an unhealthy relationship, how to end it and where to turn for help. And a negative relationship could quickly become a domestic violence call to the police.
In an effort to stop the vicious cycle, before it can reach that potentially deadly end, Ormao Dance Company and TESSA, an organization dedicated to helping survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault, will bring the school-based assembly program “Hands are for Holding” to four middle and high schools beginning in the fall. The 50-minute program, created by Gibney Dance Company and Day One, two New York City organizations, uses dance to address bullying, equity and choice during interactions.
Dancers will perform specific choreography for each of four sections: connection, isolation, side by side and boundaries. After each dance, a TESSA facilitator will initiate conversation and have kids do some interactive activities.
“Dance is a nonverbal language and speaks to emotions more clearly, especially if anybody is traumatized by bullying,” Johnson said. “They have shut down. They’re not as in touch with their feelings as a way to protect themselves. Dance is another way in to open up that dialogue and conversation.”
A reception and program will showcase the new endeavor Wednesday at Ormao. The public is invited. RSVPs are required.
“Hands are for Holding” was founded six years ago by the dance company and Day One, which seeks to help youth end dating abuse and domestic violence. The two groups, which had worked together before creating the program, were inspired to develop something that was more preventive and would get at the root of bullying before it could spiral into chaotic situations.
“If we can catch it on the front end with some education about starting to ask for equality, this is what equality looks like in a relationship, this is what support looks like, that’s the way it should be, and if it’s not, leave that relationship and here’s the help you can get to leave,” Johnson said.
“There’s got to be a way to change the conversation among young people, so they can have an awareness of what it (bullying) is. It starts with an awareness that it is a thing and there’s help.”
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