Dance is the hidden language of the soul. -Martha Graham
Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy has a new found appreciation for movement. Movement of my wrists, movement of my ankles, movement of my hands as I pour myself a glass of water, movement of my fingers as I type at my computer.
During this past week I continued to have many episodes of severe pain and inflammation. Instead of struggling to carry on as usual, I now give my body the break it needs and lay down in bed for an hour or two. I am learning the importance of keeping my mind active during these episodes – so I can often be found meditating, reading, or listening to music. (I no longer have any regrets over the Bose headphones I shelled out for a couple of months ago!)
Even mental movement has become a beautiful thing.
A few days, during on of these episodes, I was in bed listening to music. The title song from Cirque du Soleil’s Alegria shuffled onto my iPods. All of a sudden, I was dancing in my head. Not just made up dancing, but really dancing. It was a wonderful feeling. (By the way, Alegria is Spanish for Joy.)
You see, in the yoga class that I attend – Tuesdays and Thursdays are dedicated to more traditional vinyasa/ashtanga routines, while Friday classes are more freeform. A few months back, my instuctor ended one of these Friday classes by playing the Alegria song and telling us to just close our eyes and move. It was such a memorable event, to experience the joy of my body moving and dancing to the music. (And, at the time, I was so happy that everyone’s eyes were closed.)
I have always been a fan of the arts, but I must admit that dance ranked pretty low on the list of types of performances I liked to attend. (Sure, I used to do The Nutcracker in San Francisco, and once was even lucky enough to see Mark Morris’ The Hard Nut in Berkeley – but it did not get much deeper than that.) I just did not “understand” dance.
But now, I understand the beauty of movement – and that is probably all I need now to understand dance. I look forward to learning more about the art of dance; particularly the many dance groups around the world that are doing such a good job of integrating disability. Three such groups are highlighted below.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!
The GIMP Project
New York, NY
GIMP beautifully resets preconceptions about bodies and movement. -The New Yorker
Choreographer Heidi Latsky presents a roster of performers who embody unique physical virtuosity. Outstanding technique, raw beauty and the physical poetry of risk- taking, propel the artists and the audience into the collective unknown. GIMP examines the uncompromising ways we are often identified or defined by our physicality; an elegant landscape of portraits, illuminating limbs to accentuate uncommon beauty, mystery and grace; the ways in which our bodies support and rebel. GIMP confronts the audience with their preconceptions, challenging us to re-think accepted notions about dance, performance and body image. An exploration, that dives into the heart of difference, voyeurism and the unexpected.
I believe DanceAbility goes beyond movement and exploration and is for many people their first opportunity to define themselves in their own terms and see that this dance form, like their lives, has many options and possibilities. -Susan Sygall, Mobility International, USA
The mission of DanceAbility International (DAI) is to encourage the evolution of mixed-abilities dance by cultivating a common ground for creative expression for all people regardless of abilities, economic status, age or race. The mission is accomplished through performance, educational programs, teacher training and workshops. DAI performs and teaches throughout North, Central, and South America, Europe and Asia, receiving local, national and international recognition.
AXIS Dance Company
AXIS questions all of our assumptions about the possibilities of movement, subsequently expanding and enriching the art form itself. – John R. Killacky, Executive Director, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco
Prepare to leave all your preconceptions at the door — AXIS Dance Company, one of the country’s most acclaimed and innovative ensembles of performers with and without disabilities, will change the way you think about the possibilities of the human body forever. The Company is known for its high artistic and educational standards and for cutting edge collaborations with world-renowned choreographers and composers. AXIS’ groundbreaking work inspires audiences and broadens perceptions of dance and disability. It’s a thrilling experience not to be missed.