On Friday, April 30, the annual Take Back the Night vigil took place in hopes of raising awareness about gender-based violence and sexual harassment. After a unified march from Samuel Phillips Hall to Abbot Circle, a series of student performances followed. Myra Bhathena ’22, a participant in the event, shared that the initial march established a sense of solidarity among the attendees.
“The unison and strength of the chants felt empowering and connecting. I believe it is so important to make sure survivors of sexual assault know that they are never alone and that there are always people there to support them, even when institutions and others do not. The march helped create an environment of healing and power, which carried on throughout the entire event,” said Bhathena.
A diverse range of student performance groups was featured at the vigil, including Azure, Gospel Choir, Downbeat, Keynotes, and Andover Dance Group (ADG). Midway through the event, Lexiana Tucci ’22, a dancer for ADG, performed a dance solo portraying a sexual abuse survivor.
“[ADG] performed a dance piece consisting of six solos, and we wanted to show the individual stories that each survivor has. In the end, we came together to represent this unity that we all have together… I think these events are really important because many people that do experience some sort of assault or sexual violence often get their voices taken away from their stories. And these are times that we need to amplify their voices and give them the support that they need,” said Tucci.
Unlike the singing groups who performed, ADG members danced on the grass in the center of Abbot Circle. According to Tucci, performing on the grass presented both challenges and unforeseen advantages.
“It was a bit harder because we’re on grass, and it was super windy that night so it was very cold for everyone. But I really liked being able to see all of the audience members that we had, because typically on a stage, you can’t see everyone there. And you really felt the support from all around,” said Tucci.
In addition to the student performances, each participant was also given candles to turn on as the sun continued to set and a blue ribbon to pin onto their shirt as a symbol of support. During moments between performances, the candles would light up the dark nighttime sky. According to Cristina Donovan ’24, an attendee, the scene of all the candles shining together added to the impactfulness of the performances and was her favorite moment of the night.
“When it got really dark, you could turn around and see that everybody’s lights were on. That was really powerful, especially along with the performances,” said Donovan.