Brace yourselves, because this one gets to be pretty real. There’s some lovely information about my dance history however, so I can put a warning when the gist of this is approaching. I’ll label it as, [OPTIMISTS! Duck out here!].
I have great hope for my future. I really do, so I hope nobody misinterprets me on this. I have just come to realize lately the type of ramifications of a chronic illness with no cure. There are treatments of course, that work for people at varying levels. I believe I will be able to get back to all the things I love, although they may be conditional…
I love dancing. I have always enjoyed moving to music, and my natural girth (yes, I said motherfuckin’ girth!) has always allowed me to excel at dances with a natural grounding to them. I mean grounded as in African, jazz, hip hop, and Caribbean. These have always been my favourite. My dad used to drum for the Decidedly Jazz Danceworks (DJD) African classes, with some of his friends. I was very young when this was going on, maybe 5 years old. I would sometimes tag along, and they would let me take the dance class as my dad drummed! Opening my body up in the ways of African dance was cathartic for me. If you consider yourself a dancer, and have never taken an African class…You need to take one. Opinions on my origins of dance aside, my dad’s drumming was a very important part of my childhood. We went to great festivals like Afrikadey, World of Music Arts & Dance (WOMAD), local concerts, and I even remember being allowed into Quincy’s bar when I was 5, partying until past midnight with my dad. (I forget what band we were seeing- I’ll ask him.) I was a shy kid, and was always observing. I don’t think I was ever shy when I danced, though. My history in dance is rich, but the foundation in traditional African dance, and growing up with the culture of the Calgary drumming community around me, are some of my most cherished memories.
Meeting Papa Wemba was pretty awesome, too. He asked my sister and I to come back stage, because we were killing it dancing at one of his concerts. It was really cool, him telling us to keep dancing. My dad was very jealous, haha! Once again, a very old and dear memory.
Furthering my hip movement and performance education, was samba. I went to DJD for this class, taught by a real Brazilian samba queen, Barbara Oliveira! Wow, watching this woman dance was just beyond anything I had ever seen. When I took Barbara’s class, it was at 8 p.m. on Friday nights. I was 13. In junior high, that Friday night class was a social killer, but I didn’t care. Barbara is now Barbara Oliveira-Lim, married to her long-time partner, and samba drummer, Malcolm Lim. There were always live drummers at this class thanks to Malcolm, and it became my favourite Friday night ritual.
I really have been attending music festivals, and music events my whole life. World music, jazz, and drumming were my foundation. The electronic dance bug only hit when I was 14, with aspects of art found at Burning Man. It was so fun to dance all night and watch the sun come up to weird, funky beats, on a futuristic yet barren landscape! Before I knew it, I was knee deep in Shambhalas, Motion Notions, and my whole summer was preparation to dance my face off wherever I could make it to.
In my recent dance history, I had been twerking up a storm. I started teaching some informal twerking classes to friends as an attempt to get back into shape, and be more social. The Twerkshop was realized. A mobile twerking workshop model, that I was considering pushing into a business at the suggestion of my friends, and students. I had taught 3 free Twerkshops, and everybody said it could be a business. The most exciting part of hearing my friends say it was a viable business model, was that I really enjoyed doing those classes! I was about to start formal planning as to what it would require, when I was injured working at the Stampede on July 3, 2015. I went to Burning Man this past year, early September 2015, and I did manage some twerking which was great! Of course, it was limited because that trip was when the pain became undeniable…
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I know I will get back to what I love, but the realistic conditions have started to pop up in my head. I will have to be so fucking careful for the rest of my life. I don’t know if something like a business based on my physical abilities will be possible, unless I am in symptom-free remission. If I start it, invest in it, attempt it, and then put myself back into a symptom-rich state…How will I feel if that happens? Could I make my life worse by trying to follow my dreams in the future? That’s just a pointed example of what consequences to my actions I will have to consider. For the rest of my life.
I know that everyone has risks that they have to take to pursue their dreams in life. If you want to move forward, risks are an important part of learning. However, how many people have to risk physical pain at the level of medieval torture, to go out on a limb to start something like a twerking business? How many people have to hope they can even get to that point? How many people pay with true agony when something doesn’t go as planned?
I was never a huge risk-taker, never an adrenaline junkie. I am thankful the difference to my new consequence-minded lifestyle from my previous one is not a stark, black and white contrast. Things like skydiving were never goals I had, so I doubt that will start now. But honestly, it’s just really hard sometimes watching a dance clip on Instagram, and then bursting into tears. Not because I think I won’t be able to ever do it again, but because I think I may be able to do it only for the length of a video clip before I pay for it.
A fall on the ice could invite CRPS to other parts of my body previously untouched. A car accident could put me back in bed again (well, still in bed really). A big dog too eager for my attention at a park could put me right back to the same spot, or even worse. These are the kinds of things I mean by consequence-minded lifestyle. No matter how far I get, I always have to remember to look back.
This world is dangerous for patients like me.
That’s not fear mongering- that’s my new truth.