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Allison Black and Dale Clark portray rape at the Midwest Regional Ballet at Bick on Saturday, Feb. 23. The audience members were invited to walk through the art gallery “What Were You Wearing?” before and after the performance. Roberto Bustamante

Midwest Regional Ballet and SVP educate through dance

The Midwest Regional Ballet performed in a new venue with a program dedicated to education on violence. 

Sponsored by Students for Violence Prevention (SVP), Midwest Regional Ballet (MRB) Company and School performed at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts Saturday, Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. The program called the “Black and White” series included both individual dances and duet performances involving subjects such as suicide, mental illness, addiction, body dysmorphia, rape, and sexual abuse. After the performance, SVP in conjunction with Safehouse Crisis Center set up an installation entitled “What Were You Wearing?” inside the Bicknell Art Gallery. The installation featured examples of attire worn by survivors of sexual assault including military outfits, children’s clothes, and professional attire and stories that accompany each of the clothing items. 

“I just felt the need that in this time right now, where there’s so much teen suicide, teen abuse, and relationship abuse, that it was time for someone to speak up and say it’s okay,” said Kaye Lewis, artistic director of MRB. “… It’s okay to have those situations, just speak up about them, it’s okay.” 

This performance of the Black and White series was the second performance after an initial performance of the program in June 2018. After the debut, Safehouse Crisis Center approached Lewis and MRB about bringing the performance to Pitt State campus. 

“… I said, ‘Yes of course. I would love to bring it here (Pitt State),” Lewis said. 

The ballet company also held a showcase for area schools on Friday, Feb. 22 although it had lower attendance than Lewis wanted. 

“… We were hoping to have a lot of schools here. That didn’t work out which was a little heartbreaking because that’s really the people I’m trying to reach right now… We had enough people here that we were touched by it… That’s the main thing. If it changes one person’s life that’s the important part.” 

Lewis also encouraged students dealing with issues covered in the Black and White series to “speak up” and to not “hold it in.” 

“I think anything that shows comforting and gives you bravery and to speak about your situation, because I think there’s too much concealment which brings you to a place of ‘I give up’ and you can’t ever give up,” Lewis said. “Part of being a successful person is being a failure… You just (have to) go for it.” 

SVP works closely with local groups like MRB, Safehouse Crisis Center, and the Children’s Advocacy Center to promote events and demonstrations that can help stop domestic violence and related topics. 

“It goes along with a lot of the topics we educate about and so, we were really excited to do something different (because) we don’t do ballet often,” said Kali Clingerman, sophomore in nursing and media manager for SVP. “It was really fun to connect with them to do that. 

Students for Violence Prevention encourages anyone experiencing domestic violence or abuse to reach out to either the Pittsburg State campus victim advocate Stephanie Spitz (620-235-4831) or seek help at Safehouse Crisis Center (620-231-8692). 

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