PLATTSBURGH — Never in the 26 years Liesa Pedersen taught belly dance has the Masouda Dance Ensemble danced for “One Billion Rising.”
Pedersen was called to participate in the international action to rise and resist violence against women.
Eve Ensler, author of “The Vagina Monologues,” is inviting people around the globe to “Strike. Dance. Rise!” in the Valentine’s Day event.
“I like the concept of the 1 billion rising to counteract the numbers of violence against women,” Pedersen said. “It seemed a real positive way of bringing this to light with the community invitations. Let’s dance. Let’s be powerful, happy and strong, shedding light on the darkness. The awareness is such a positive thing.”
The ensemble performs from 4 to 7 p.m. today with other local dancers, including the Adirondack Liturgical Dance Troupe and Guibord’s North Country School of Dance, near Target at Champlain Centre. The event is sponsored by STOP Domestic Violence and Behavioral Health Services North.
“I’m really happy to be part of (this) and be able to share something,” Pedersen said. “This is focused specifically toward women. I’m about empowering people, in general. If you feel empowered, you’re not the one spreading negativity and violence.”
She was introduced to belly dance by her older sister, Patricia, in Greenwich Village’s Greek Town in the 1960s.
“I was a young teen. I had been taking folk dance and Turkish dance as a kid. This was a fad for this exotic type of fitness,” Pedersen said. “That’s, in a nutshell, how a lot of us in America experienced belly dance. People got interested and made trips to Egypt and to the culture from whence it sprang.”
Pedersen uses belly dance to help women accept themselves.
“By using a form of movement of dance and movement that is beautiful, it adds to your own perception of your self,” she said. “Belly dancing is very accepting of all sizes, shapes and ages. It’s inclusive.”