In Honor of Womens' History Month, Fanoos Magazine caught up with Sabeya of the worldwide phenomenon that is Shimmy Mob to discuss her visions and hopes for dancers everywhere. 1. Thank you so much for talking to Fanoos, Sabeya! Tell us how you started Shimmy Mob and the inspiration behind it.
The whole idea started from a conversation I had with another belly dance studio owner. She had done a flashmob in her city and her competition reacted negatively to it. That inspired me to come up with a way to find a common cause that would bring competition together for a greater good.
2. As a DV survivor, what do you believe are the most important steps in recovering from the trauma and rebuilding a normal life?
It’s tough to narrow it down to just a few steps as they are many, all equally important. I have experienced abuse in all its aspects and for most of my life; my healing journey continues.
I used to blame myself for not recognizing it in my own life. Ironically, I was in an abusive relationship when I started Shimmy Mob. I’ve found that healing begins 1. when we stop blaming ourselves for it, 2. when we set healthy boundaries, and 3. when we perform selfcare mentally and emotionally on an ongoing basis (that includes surrounding yourself with people who support your healing).
3. In what ways have you seen Shimmy Mob have a positive impact in people's lives and in the community?
Shimmy Mob participants learn to recognize abuse through the information we share. This allows them to help others in abusive situations by pointing them in the right direction to find the help that they need.
4. What do you look for in choreographies that are submitted for Shimmy Mob? What is your selection process?
There is a selection committee and choreography gets scored and selected based on the following criteria: clarity of instruction, sound and video quality, accessibility to beginners, and appeal to mainstream audiences.
5. Shimmy Mob is a global force now! How have you seen it grow and change over the years?
Originally, we focused on raising funds for shelters for women and children but we quickly learned that abuse does not discriminate. Domestic violence is a much bigger issue than most people realize. We stand against abuse against anyone, regardless of their gender. The past few years, we have increased the focus on creating awareness and empowering individuals by spotlighting the warning signs that precede abuse; this has helped us save more lives.
6. What would you like to see happen in the future as Shimmy Mob continues? We want to increase collaboration and to expand our programs to go beyond learning dance routines. Prevention through education is the key to reducing the incidence of domestic violence, as well as empowering those who have experienced domestic violence.
7. Covid and quarantining have increased DV exponentially. What are your thoughts on reaching out to those quarantined in an abusive situation? Before reaching out, each situation needs to be evaluated to ensure that the victims are not put in more danger. If you believe the person is in immediate danger, calling the police or the local shelter for guidance might be the best thing to do. The one thing quarantines have done is encourage more people to be online; this is the perfect place to share information. 8. Tell us about your most memorable experience (s) with Shimmy Mob. They are countless! Everytime someone notices our Shimmy Mob t-shirt and asks about it is a memorable experience, a reinforcement to what we do. They either know someone, have been that someone, or are the someone in the abusive situation.
Every year, Shimmy Mob team leaders report helping complete strangers that happened to be in the audience during one of our flashmobs.
One of the many memories that has stuck with me over the years occurred early on. We were performing at multiple places on Shimmy Mob day and the team was travelling from location to location by public transit. One of the passengers pointed at my Shimmy Mob t-shirt and asked me what it was about (this happens a lot). When I told her, she opened her wallet and offered money towards the fundraiser. With tears in her eyes, she said “I was in a shelter once”.
9. Do you have advice for those that lead SM teams or are thinking of holding one for the first time? Team leaders get ongoing guidance and support from headquarters. If you are thinking of leading a team, sign up and give it a try. You will not regret it, I promise.
10. Finally, how does one get involved in Shimmy Mob? Signing up to dance is one way, and volunteers are always welcome to help lead rehearsals, run music, record the performances, do fundraising, distribute informational material, etc.
We have introduced a virtual team for those who don’t have a team in their area or are unable to perform in person but still want to take part. One can also sign up to simply donate. You can sign up at ShimmyMob.com.
For the past 11 years, on World Bellydance Day (the second Saturday in May), teams of bellydancers around the world dance a Shimmy Mob, a belly dance flash mob held annualy to raise awareness of domestic abuse.
This is a fun event, held for a good cause.
Feel good about yourself by helping others. We need dancers, dance teachers, dance schools, sponsors and volunteers.