By Amber Dickson
Dancers use their art as a form of personal expression, but several local dancers are uniting to speak up for victims who often don’t have a voice.
“Break the Silence,” a benefit concert for The Center for Women and Children in Crisis, will feature eight of Utah’s most accomplished dance companies with guest performer, Jenny Jordan Frogley. The dance companies that will perform include Odyssey Dance Theatre, Kalamity Dance, members of Ballet West and other local dance talent. All proceeds from the benefit will go toward protection for victims of domestic violence. The performance is Friday at 7 p.m. at the Jeanne Wagner Theatre in Salt Lake. The show is recommended for ages eight and up and tickets are $15 per person.
Evan Rogler, event director, had the idea for “Break the Silence” while attending a dance festival with BYU’s Contemporary Dance Theater in March. He began to wonder why dancers didn’t unite more often for a good cause. Rogler discovered the financial needs of The Center for Women and Children in Crisis and started coordinating that night. Acting as a representative for the center, Rogler said he hopes to be able to help them improve needed security measures.
“The wall that surrounds the domestic violence shelter and transitional housing was never completed with the original construction because the funding wasn’t available,” Rogler said. “This left a gap in the wall, which has been temporarily closed with a chain-link fence. With our help, the CWCIC plans to finish this security wall and begin the process of installing a more modern security camera system. Their highest priority is to keep those individuals safe from the abuse they have escaped and I think we need to help make that happen because in some way, domestic violence has affected the lives of all of us.”
The center’s complex houses an average of 325 men, women and children each year. According to the “Break the Silence” website, 1,761 Utah children were sheltered as a result of domestic violence, approximately one in three women have been victims of domestic violence and 11 percent of victims say there are secrets held about violence in their households. Rogler hopes this event will bring awareness to these social tragedies and encourage anyone suffering from domestic abuse to break their silence and get help.
BYU graduate, Angela Green, worked with Rogler on BYU’s The Dancers’ Company. Rogler asked Green if she would perform a duet with him for the event and Green said she was grateful for the opportunity to help the cause.
“The psychology behind these relationships is such that the victims often cannot stand up for themselves or escape the situation,” Green said. “I am looking forward to portraying a healthy, loving relationship onstage in this fresh and romantic duet about the innocence of young love.”
“Break the Silence” recently launched a Facebook campaign where dancers and strangers were asked to take a photo with the event’s poster to make a statement against domestic violence. One woman who participated came forward with a story about an abusive relationship she was in and how she was trying to cope. The coordinators were able to offer her helpful resources through the shelter.
“That was a light bulb moment for us,” said Kathleen Madison, one of the event’s coordinators who has been volunteering at the center for about a year. “Just by hosting this concert we are able to help people and bring about conversations that allow for healing from their past or present situations. I deeply wish that they did not need to be in a shelter, but I am glad that there is a place for them to go to receive the resources they need to help them get out of these situations.”
Eldon Johnson, associate artistic director and principle dancer for Odyssey Dance Theater, said the company wants to help shed light on a problem that often goes unnoticed.
“We feel it important to participate in this event because it brings awareness to a situation that is often overlooked in this day and age,” Johnson said.
Madison agreed, saying that is often true in this community.
“I think in Utah, we sometimes get stuck in a bubble and it’s really easy to forget that not everything in Happy Valley is happy,” Madison said. “In fact, there are tons of families dealing with this issue in our area and sometimes it’s uncomfortable to talk about it, but it is a subject that needs to be mentioned so people can receive help.”