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LaGuardia College holds anti-violence V-Day dance

Students hold a flashmob anti-violence dance outside LaGuardia Community College's E Building for V-Day. Photo by Rebecca Henely
TimesLedger Newspapers

Valentine’s Day is a day of romance, but a protest at LaGuardia Community College last week focused on helping the most vulnerable women love themselves.

For V-Day, a day of protest held Feb. 14 and inspired by feminist writer Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues,” students and faculty at LaGuardia held flash mob dances throughout the campus, at 31-10 Thomson Ave. in Long Island City. Their dance, “Break the Chain,” was written and choreographed for V-Day and preaches female empowerment and freedom from abuse.

“I know a lot of women and girls who’ve been abused, and this is my dedication to them,” said Stefanie Sertich, assistant humanities professor at LaGuardia.

Sertich said the dance was a collaboration between the college’s performing arts center, women’s center and student dance club. Last year the college held a performance of an Ensler piece in its black-box theater.

But this year, Sertich said the college wanted to do a flash mob dance to take the message of non-violence to the student body and faculty instead of having them come to the performing arts center. In a flash mob dance, participants gather in a public place with no advance notice to perform.

“This year it felt like we wanted to do something a little more fun to engage the community,” Sertich said.

The dancers consisted mostly of young women, but a number of young men and faculty members of both sexes joined in as well. After a short rehearsal at the college’s Performing Arts Center’s box office, the dancers performed at four different places in and outside the campus.

Michael Trahain, president of the dance club, said the “Break the Chain” dance empowers women to love themselves.

“We do have power,” said Kattie Santana, vice president of the dance club. “We do have rights.”

Dr. Vanessa Bing, of the college’s women’s center, said the institution has been working hard to highlight the problem of violence against women and partner abuse. She said while there has not been an increase in incidents of partner violence on campus, several students said they have been dealing with the problem. She said the organization has done workshops in addition to awareness-raising events.

“We feel like this is an issue that is often not talked about,” Bing said.

Sertich said dance brings people together and a dance like “Break the Chain” helps give women a voice and helps them be comfortable and confident enough to push back against violence.

“I’ve been in situations where I didn’t step up and I wish I had,” she said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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