In 2012 – for our first rising year in February 2013, Debbie Allen gifted One Billion Rising with her choreography for “Break The Chain”. The world risings that year were galvanized by the song and the dance and it became part of a collective energy that united the globe. We will always be grateful to Ms. Allen for her artistic gift to the movement.
In December 2014, it was brought to our attention by local activists that Ms. Allen had publicly spoken about her thoughts on the rape disclosures against Bill Cosby.
In a TV interview on the TODAY show, she said that the accusations were “hard to believe”… adding, “Cosby gave us one of the greatest shows in history, and redefined the perception of black people all over the world.” “At the same time, I’m a part of One Billion Rising,” she continued. “This is a movement for women to stand up against violence and denigration of women. This is a tough situation, and it’s just hard to believe. I don’t know. I think that so much time has passed before they all have kind of have come together…there’s a big question that my mother ask me every day, ‘Why now? Why are these people trying to destroy his legacy?'”
We approached Ms. Allen for clarification and were saddened and disappointed that she did not want to clarify her statement.
The original choreography of “Break The Chain” now belongs to the world, as it has been the activists on the ground who have taken and expressed it in their political spaces. As a global but locally self-led and self-determined movement we also cannot prescribe Risings for anyone. One Billion Rising protest and activism expressions are sovereign to each group, community, country and region – and everyone has the freedom to choose.
In light of Ms. Allen’s comments in the TODAY interview, we would like activists to know this context before they choose to do or not to do her choreography, because we understand that her statement caused considerable pain to survivors.
As a global solidarity movement we firmly stand with all the women he has been accused of violating.
If you would like to change, re-envision, re-conceive your own choreography for “Break the Chain”, or create your own original Rising dance – below are some examples from other countries for inspiration.
One Billion Rising Global Coordinators:
Fartuun Adan, (Somalia)
Tanya Anastasiadis, (UK)
Iman Aoun, (Palestine)
Abha Bhaiya, (India)
Kamla Bhasin (India)
Nicoletta Billi, (Italy)
Rada Boric, (Croatia)
Hui-Jung Chi, (Taiwan)
Nico Corradini, (Italy)
Eve Ensler (US) Founder
Colani Hlatjwako (Swaziland)
Khushi Kabir, (Bangladesh)
Marya Meyer, (US)
Obeth Montes, (Philippines)
Jessica Montoya (US)
Andrés Naime, (Mexico)
Marsha Pamela, (Guatemala)
Christine Schüler-Deschryver (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Thea Tadiar Everley, (UK)
Isatou Touray, (Gambia)
Monique Wilson, (Philippines) One Billion Rising Director
Nyasha Sengayi, (Zimbabwe)