Dance for Kindness movement uses global flashmobs to promote acceptance

Thirty Geneseo students and community members celebrated World Kindness Day through the Dance for Kindness movement on Sunday Nov. 13 by executing an eight-minute dance routine on the MacVittie College Union patio. During the event, warm temperatures and bright sunshine allowed for a large audience of both students and families to congregate outside the Union and to enjoy the well-rehearsed performance.

After a week of divisiveness among both the campus and national communities due to the election, the Dance for Kindness event brought together participants and spectators to celebrate unity and optimism.

This was the fifth annual Worldwide Dance for Kindness Flashmob, organized by physics major sophomore Emily Verhaeg. The college’s student-driven performance shared commonality with the other Dance for Kindness initiatives happening globally, as all participating groups used the same song and dance during their individual events.

“I think that Dance for Kindness was a great event, especially because the country is so divided right now,” participant communication major sophomore Annie Renaud said. “I hope the event reminds people to take the time out of their day and do small acts of kindness for one another.”

Created to commemorate World Kindness Day, the large and varied group introduced their routine with a “flashmob,” in which the dancers assumed a specific kindness position for two minutes.

Geneseo’s flashmob imitated a hug, giving people passing by the opportunity to recognize what kindness looks like. Immediately following the flashmob, the participants—all clad in coordinating orange T-shirts—erupted into a musically accompanied dance that lasted for an additional five minutes.

The Dance for Kindness celebration encompassed more than 48 countries and upward of 93 locations in 2015. This movement enabled approximately 12,000 dancers to participate globally.

Despite their physical separation and geographical distance, all groups partaking in the Worldwide Flashmob share unity in their common goal: the promotion of positive self-expression, kindness, teamwork, leadership and togetherness on both local and global scales.

To participate in the Dance for Kindness, interested groups must fall under a group leader, who is in charge of registering the team and receiving an email with a protected link to the association’s “Learn the Dance” page. This page features a tutorial video, the year’s agreed upon songs and contact information for the choreographers.

Grassroots organization Life Vest Inside seeks to empower the world through acts of love and kindness like aiding a charity partner. Beginning in 2012, Life Vest Inside has sponsored Dance for Kindness as a globalized vehicle for celebrating World Kindness Day.

“Life Vest Inside is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to empowering, inspiring and education people of all backgrounds and helping them realize that every single person is worth the exact same amount as the next,” Verhaeg said. “Because of this, everyone should treat each other with the kindness they would treat their favorite people with. Instead of fighting hate with hate, we can fight it with love and kindness, which are so much more powerful.”

When Orly Wahba—CEO of Life Vest Inside and Director of Kindness Boomerang—founded the organization in 2011, she intended to use philanthropy as a means for encouraging generosity and kindness, which, she maintains, keeps the global community afloat during hardship.

“The purpose of World Kindness Day is to look beyond ourselves—beyond the boundaries of our country, beyond our culture, our race, our religion, and realize that we are citizens of the world and that kindness is the common thread that unites us all,” according to Life Vest Inside’s website.