paidiraiompair: (papa's mountain)
 (please note that time with my Kin brings out my down home accent that I choose NOT to change for this post.  I hope you see the reasons)
  PS for those who asked, My Grandma is still in hospital, but on the mend  ~ 

Sometimes a thing can “work fer ye, or agisnt ye”.  I find this to be especially true to my efforts in this post.  Inspired by my time this summer in the BlueRidge, life here is often so simple, that it sets the mind a wondering.  Here we fall into a rhythm of waking and resting with the sun, spend hours on the porch rather than a TV, and cell phones and other “new fangled devices” rarely get a good signal.  A “trip to town” is either a place to get mail, tourist merchants, with a local eatery, or if you want to get real swanky, the nearest Wal-Mart.

It was there my train of thought began as I quietly noticed the local fashions.  A tall lady with bright pink patent leather cow boy boots paired with Daisy Dukes and the biggest straw hat I’ve seen in a long while.  (If you know my world THAT’S saying something)   A lanky teen that was going for “goth”, but lost me in the blonde “big hair”, tied up with a skull ribbon.  Then there was the “PJ” family:  I don’t mean the current fashion of “pj pants as ok for public” sort of thing, I am talking 4 kids aged 3-10 in their PAJAMAS, as their array of “bed head” furthered the point.  They turned the corner to their equally robed (and I mean “with a robe”) Mom, who called out to “Pa”.  The dad, however, was in neat suit and tie to rival the best dress Mormon knocking on your door too early on a Saturday morning. 

Right there, I realized, much to my chagrin, that *I* was staring.  The same sort of behavior that I have heard often vilified on “disability” type forums and chastised myself to otherwise, well mannered adults.  (I rarely fault children under 10, but I’ll get to that.)  My eyes went immediately forward as I caught one of kids staring back at me.  However, as time passed I thought about the idea of “attention”:   the kind we draw to ourselves voluntarily and the kind we don’t.

The same folks who “dressed however they want” because (they say) “I don’t care what people think!”, can be the first to give a terse word if an on looker does so too long or with  an expression the dress-ee doesn’t like.  However, for the person whose outer appearance falls outside the norm NOT by choice, the overt gaze with or without accompanied facial judgment is a very different thing.   It is true that some folks just “don’t got no home training”, to use a “mountain-ism”, and are being somewhere between thoughtless to an ass.  It’s why good parenting says “don’t stare” without any disqualifiers.   There will be things that fall out of our “normal” and will invoke a long second look, as the brain’s way of confirming “did I just see what I THINK I see”.  Whether we LIKE it or not, whether it SHOULD be that way or not, there are honest folks who really are NOT around folks with disabilities and beyond doing a “reality check” their kafundled brains can make them do or say some really stupid things.  So maybe the real issue is intent. 

Young children are fountains of curiosity and, well plain talk.  When mine were small and confronted with a “new” thing, I would encourage them to ask POLITELY whatever questions they had.  When a child sees my chair, if the parent isn’t busy dragging them away, I say hi to them to let them know “yes, I get around different, but I’m really just a person.”  Grandma always said the best way to understand folks is to start by making them comfortable.  I take the lead most of time, as a way to defuse the awkward by normalizing the participants. 

I personally do this with laughter.  I meet their stumbling for whatever “word” they can use without offending me.  I say plainly, “It’s easy, you’re bi-peds, we’re gimps:  You annoy the sh*t out of us. Let’s move along.”  By doing this, I have “just said it”.  I’ve pointed to the elephant in the room and named it “Gimpy McGimperston”, with a hat and sparkles for the trunk.  Let’s move on.

 It’s one of the ideas I cultivate as a dancer, both in a physically integrated dance troupe and out on a dance floor in a club with my friends. I am in a wheel chair AND I am a dancer.   If we want to be “seen” as normal, then it only makes sense to just go out in the world and BE normal.  If folks stare, let’em. Ignore them, mock them, or stare back.  Either they don’t know no manners, or they are just being inspired. (YUCK!)  Folks never seen a person in a wheel chair use a cane to get something off a high shelf, you ain’t seen nothing yet.  Never seen one grab the escalator at the “no elevator” mall, hang on to your hat!  Didn't consider we go to parks, the arcade, ride in taxis, go to the club, well then start paying attention.  Better yet, come to one of our performances (shameless plug) and open your mind to what a dancer can be and DO.  I encourage all of my GimpGirl (and Boy) friends to do your part and live your life out in the world, HOWEVER you want to !  

Bi-peds CAN be taught, and once we aren't such a novelty maybe they’ll stop staring, or recording me on the escalator with their cell phones. 

 

paidiraiompair: (Default)
 Still working on that "Blue Ridge" post, I wanted to share this wonderful, funny and awesome MOM story of what impact there is on the child of someone with a disability.  It is from a fellow "gimp girl" blogger named Haddayr on Live Journal (check her out)!!  It summer time, so even the blogging slows for vacation.


 
paidiraiompair: (arty chair)
 For summer, let's play an "add on" version of D & D,  TOTALLY GIMP STYLE:  Here's a start:  A party of adventurer gimps, raiding the infamous "Castle of Inaccessibility".  They bring along siege-ramps to conquer the flight of stairs that leads to the bridge over the moat.  The elf-archer is equipped with grappling hooks and a winch that lets her roll up steep inclines and even sheer walls.  The mage has such spells as "Widen Hallway", and "Arcane Elevator".  The warriors chair is equipped with spiked wheels and a ram-plate.
 
They've heard a rumor of a prisoner, possibly the missing princess of the nearby kingdom of Radius.  If the stories are true she's being held in a cruel dungeon in which the bathroom sink is far to high and the grab bars around the toilet have been poorly secured with cheap screws from wal-mart. The Wheeled Warriors of Radius, though feared throughout the land for their instep-crushing battle prowess have been unable to breach the castle defenses because the cruel master of that fell domain has placed a large ficus-bearing planter in the middle of the castles only handicapped parking spot.......

(ADD your character and plot ideas in the comments below or Goggle plus or email me.  I am thinking this is TOTALLY do-able!!)  

ALL credit goes to my awesome friend GREEN who ran with the idea and who brained stormed the above, this being one of the reasons I love him with a million floaty hearts 

PS
 I KNOW I promised a BlueRidge post...I'm still working on it ;)  
paidiraiompair: (koala jester)
 So as the dance company is taking some time off for the summer, I thought to pass the time I would share with my those new to "my world" a little something to educate, what I call bi-pediquette:  Play along and next post will be from the wilds of the Blue Ridge!

Top Ten Gimp Rules  As defined by me and mine: 

1. Impromptu outings are as easy as nailing Jell-O to a tree.

2. When you fall down, before getting up, you wonder what else you can do while you're down there.

3. Don't let your friends push your wheelchair when they are mad at you. (or drunk)  

4. EVERYONE is your friend in the amusement park lines (or during the Christmas shopping season) as the latest news from Disney World tell us

5. Please, only WHEN requested, and then only the HELPFUL help.

6. Using the fact that you look small and helpless to lure in your prey really saves a lot of walking.

7. Your handicap parking permit gives you dibs on "shot gun" on any given car drive.

8. If there is any easier way to do it, a gimp has already figured it out.  

9. It doesn't matter HOW accessible a place is once inside, if we can't get into the place, it IS NOT accessible.

10.You may call us many things, but using the phrase “YOU PEOPLE” will ALWAYS piss us off. 

paidiraiompair: (dancin' in lot)
 So when we LAST left our story, our heroine was training hard for her FIRST 4 mile "Rolk" for Dimes with Team Duncan, nephew and ambassador of the North Georgia chapter.  To update, not only did she MAKE the entire course, despite that over half the distance was either:  Too narrow for a wheel chair, BROKEN, covered in trash/fallen branches/ glass and/or NON-EXISTENT (you could just HEAR the air quotes in "accessible route") the more amazing part was our group raised over $20,000.00 for the cause.  To everyone who donated, watched/shared the video I thank you.

Since then, the dance company has performed at the Inman Park Festival, began learning two new works, crafted another to be presented this weekend at the Modern Atlanta Dance (MAD) festival, throwing in a high school workshop and a round of "dragon" school shows.  "Down time" has been dedicated to rehearsal, PT, work etc.  (You heard the air quotes on that too didn't ya?)  So in a moment of quiet I wanted to share one of those things that keeps me on task and mostly sane. 

A frequent visitor to our class noticed my humming different tunes as I went through my prep for rehearsal.  I explained that it was my "theme song" for the day.  My doctor likes it that I have "motivational music" to help me stay up and moving.  Some days, when I am facing an "adventure" i.e. life challenges, it's the theme from "Indiana Jones", over-scheduled days you can hear the Lone Ranger Overture.  Multi multi-task days, the most common, I "insert Circus Music here".  The idea is to move to the music in my head, keeping time to propel me forward through whatever sort of body issues are thrown in my way.  I find when I can push along until rehearsal or any morning begins, in the end, I leave feeling better, even if it's a better sort of tired. 

Theme songs set a tone, an emotional backdrop, for my mind.  Thinking a happy tune can brighten your outlook, even if only to put a sarcastic spin on things.  Venting via a hard bass line, or centering over a melodic one brings focus when my  brain is racing with too many or even unconjoined thoughts.  As a dancer, I seem to have the best performances when I remind myself to relax into the movement and let the music move me.  My body knows the choreography; it's my mind that sets into panic.

I find, most of all, my daily tunes are good for the soul.  That is why I advocate the practice to anyone. Use the old "mixed tape" format, on whatever music device you have (yeah, I still use actual tape) to put together a playlist as a way to start.  Think of media characters, heroes or villains, as many come complete with a theme.  Songs from childhood Saturday morning cartoons, opening notes from a family TV night, hummed memories of a grandparent.  All these are the music that moves our spirits and our hearts, and can get us passed the chaos of street sounds or even voices of negative thought. 

Before performance, there is a time to warm up and connect with the other dancers. In the wings, waiting in the silence, I remind myself to find calm, trust and have fun.  When I can do that, the music in my head and the sound in my ears come together, and all I feel is, "I am a dancer….”let’s DO this!”

paidiraiompair: (arty chair)
Video of the author dancing and training for the March of DImes.      Please share this within ALL your networks, pretty pretty please
Hey Everyone, I've just posted a new video about my prep for an exciting event!  I will be participating this year in the March of Dimes of North Georgia 4 mile marathon as part of TEAM DUNCAN!  Duncan Lawrence is my super awesome nephew and is the Regional Ambassador for the event!  Please consider sponsoring me in the walk on April 12th at  

http://www.marchforbabies.org/DancesWithWheels  
                       
 
                   See motivation in action!!                        

Then use the link above to sponsor me as part of TEAM

DUNCAN and get me to my donation goal.  Getting

through the 4 miles, I'll take care of that!!
 
Come be a part of the movement.  You can walk or cheer us on. DONATIONS of $50 or more get you
your own TEAM DUNCAN t-shirt!   With logos like this
  (event info below)         Duncan Lawrence -- March for Babies 2013
Or if you wish you can go to
and order your very own shirt from the makers at Strong and Far (here's the logo)
go to the link below      
North Georgia Tri County

April 12, 2013
Ellijay Elementary
32 McCutchen Street
Ellijay, GA 30540
paidiraiompair: (arty chair)
 For a while, I'd been on the road, as it were, doing school shows for elementary aged kids in our state.  The largest leg was in a mostly rural area in eastern Georgia. Running the program back to back, it is always interesting that K-6, they always seem to ask the same things during the Q&A.  I assemble here the top 5 questions:

 5)  Do Chinese Dragons have wings?? 

My own research says mostly no, in regards to dragon myths in China. “as their ability to fly (and control rain/water, etc.) are mystical and not seen as a result of their physical attributes.” But since the name of the book we base our show on is called “Legend of the Chinese Dragon” I defer to the author, who says they do.  Though it’s a good example on how much detail kids regard what they see.  

4)  Are any of the dancers from China….or Mexico? 

I laughed at the child‘s attempt to frame the question in a politically correct format.  One of our AB dancers is ethically Asian, and we used the opportunity to get them to find “Saipan” on the globe back in their classrooms.  The smart alec in me wanted to point out our very Caucasian Bosnian and say “why yes, yes he is”…..but I digress. 

 3)  How did you create the show and learn all the dances? 

 To which we, in chorus, state : “practice, practice practice”  We point out that we began rehearsals for the show back in the autumn, when they were beginning their school year,   Just like they get up in the morning for class, we get up to go to our “job”  being dancers. 


2)  Do you work out with weights?  

For an answer, “All Abs” sports his guns to the thrill of every sighing girl and sexual confused boy in the audience.    

The Follow-up question?        Can he flex his muscles again?

 
1)  Do the dancers in the wheel chairs actually NEED them?

Really, this question is asked at EVERY kid’s performance, sometimes multiple times in various forms.  Their minds are suddenly opened to the possibility that what they perceive and what is actually possible might not be the same thing.  So they guess that there is something incorrect in the perception. They note who can do what:  Who can leave their chair and sit on the floor.  Who can do a handstand.  Who can move a foot.  Surely if one can do THOSE things, then the chair isn’t a “necessity”.   Even when our director thought to BEGIN the Q&A with the answer, it was still their number one query.  I think their tenancy to wonder isn't so different than when adults do it, the real variable seems to be their reason for asking.  Children wonder the why of things without real prejudice. 

 Grownups, unfortunately, can use it as a loaded question, especially for the “border gimp”. In a world where unimpeded walking is the holy grail of happy endings in any physically challenge story, NOT choosing it as the best alternative in real life baffles their sensibilities.  Though I have the capacity of bi-pedal mobility, (just so long as I don’t have to do it for long, or be good at it), the chair just makes getting from place to place easier . It saves the carnage of falls, the exhaustion of distance, the embarrassment of clumsiness.  Those practical applications give me the ability to keep my downtown commuter employment gigs.  None of us are “confined” to our chairs anymore than the able bodied are confined to their legs. 

Sometimes the children phrase the question more along the lines of “Does it hurt?” It is the nature of a child to think that the unknown, in this case, being handicap, might be painful.  We reassure them that we rehearse each move until we can perform it without injury.  We also point out that like all dancers, seated or standees, sometimes we fall.  And just like anything else in life, the important thing is to get back up and keep moving.   

 


paidiraiompair: (dreaming)
 It’s been a while since I've written here.  Mostly because we have been up to our noses in rehearsal as we prepared our major concert of the year here in Atlanta.  A time of hard work and jammed backed days, in the evenings there was no energy to form written sentences.  Yet, in my mind, in any quiet moment, I found myself thinking about the basic human need to express the spirit.  I've seen how that can translate into frayed emotions, pushing physical bounties, overwhelming the memory and frustrating the mind.  As the last performance played out, by intermission we were taking on the look of the “walking wounded” (pardon the pun).  Head collisions, bruised and battered feet/toes, a smashed set of knuckles and every ice pack found or made, when the lights came up, we were all on again.  This is what we do, more than just our livelihoods, but our lives.

Unlike dancing in a club or otherwise for oneself, dancing as performance is what Gabrielle Roth once called the “Light of controlled Chaos”.  When rehearsals transition into nonstop run throughs, the task is to get every movement exactly correct, all the while making it feel fresh and look spontaneous.  However, it is surely then that things go awry.  Roth also said, “Chaos has a shadow side, when it is not grounded.  And that is just a panic”.  Not really “stage fright” it is the added energy that makes dance going toward performance start to “feel different”.  Making mistakes you've never done before, turning ways you can’t image, forgetting moves you done a hundred times.  The only thing to do is breathe, turn nervousness into excitement, finding the balance, hopefully, before opening night.  Prayer, lucky charms and kind words can go a long way towards that end.    

 So the curtain rises, the lights are on and you and your cast mates are in it together.  Each performance will have moments of great syncopation, impromptu elements of inspiration and bumps in the beat that one makes do and carries on.  I think the best times are when the company pulls together, from reaching a steady hand in the momentary dark before the music rises to checking on the wonderful and the wounded as the applause fades.  "Happiness is essentially a state of going somewhere, wholeheartedly, one-directionally, without regret or reservation." - William H. Sheldon.  

Now in the week our director has given us off, I, for one, am using the time to catch up on my everyday tasks and much needed sleep.   The knot on my noggin all but gone, my feared broken toes are still black across the ridge, but only bruised.  I find I am getting antsy, ready to create again, eager for that wonderful “controlled chaos” that turns learned patterns into art, and simple counts into music of movement and life.  

paidiraiompair: (power)
If embedding doesn't work you can go to http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/01/wheelchair-dance-paraplegic-finds-family-in-recovery/
paidiraiompair: (dance warm up)
 A new post in the works to explain it all, but until then check us out on TV for all the clues!!  Or use this link  http://bcove.me/t3xwa78q


paidiraiompair: (sun set)
 Something to move to.....


paidiraiompair: (stepping stone)
 A little ditty to share with you all!

paidiraiompair: (power)
Somethings are harder to put "out there" more than others; and I hesitated on this post.  In the spirit of the journey....



 D
uring the break, I’ve been moving.  Not just dancing, but actual relocating my household to a smaller space.  Growing up in a large family and then raising my own, it was time to simplify.  My current normal just doesn’t allow me to manage such a big home and keep it the way my clean gene insisted I should.  That meant ridding myself of things I’d kept for many years, but just weren’t working in my life anymore. 

Moving hurts.  There’s the added physical exertion of course, the boxing, transporting, cleaning, unboxing…. But there’s also the emotional side.  Even when movement is a positive thing, there is a sort of awkward melancholy that a thing that was so much a part of your everyday is changing.  Goodbye to old ways of doing things, arrangement of your things, even the view from your window.  You feel disoriented, as by habit your body is interrupted from falling into old patterns.  You have to stop and remind yourself where you are and the relationship between that and everything else. 

Dancing can be that way too, especially when the WAY you are doing it is so different from what you were used to.  Trained as primarily an actor, blocking is really just choreography without the music.  I once rehearsed a show in a space that had a large support beam in the middle of center stage right.  When we moved to the performance space, actors were still unconsciously “going around” the now nonexistent pole.  It took several reminders before new patterns took over.  I find that I have been wrestling with a similar dilemma on some interesting levels.

Though my means of conveyance has changed, the original equipment still exists and functions to one degree or another.  (NOT reliably, which is a major issue is bi-pedal locomotion).  Part of the time, I know I have to restrain my legs from interfering with the chair’s ability to move fluidly.  Others I have to use old habits in a new way.  When one goes into a front tilt, the torso should react in the same way it once did to “stand straight up”.  However what I’ve been working through these days have been directions to NOT use attributes that I do possess. 

In our troupe, “All Abs” can literally do handstands and cartwheels while strapped firmly into his chair.  “Gimp with a Limp” does a move where he stands on his two feet with chair strapped to “shake his groove thing” in one piece.  “Seasoned Pro”, tiny and light, is often lifted chair and all, and carried “crowd surfing” over the troupe.  My body shape is none of these things, and my current chair not designed to do many of the things we do in dance, and I often feel frustrated.  I internalize the issue as being seen as a character flaw:  “You are not trying HARD enough”.  I go home and practice tilts and leans till sides are bruised and straps have worn away skin, but too often this doesn’t prove out in rehearsal.  Now I don’t want sympathy here, I am doing what I should and NEED to do.  What the goal here is results, so I thought of what our director always says “ADAPT”

I have two feet, and when not trying to hold up unreliable hips and knees, they work pretty well.  So it seemed logical that if adaptation is about using what you have, using them to overcome a chair built NOT to tip over into accomplishing that feat, that would be a good thing. 

Yet, I can tell, in the eyes of my colleagues, it is “cheating”.  Being schooled in a technique that doesn’t address the real issues of my body and chair do not produced the same results.  But to say so in class is met with “making excuses”.  Tones begin to show agitation that I don’t “just do it”.  I understand that dance often requires uniformity, so where do I go from there?  I don’t have an answer yet, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one.  The physical hurt I can take, but the emotional pain is something to work out for one's self, maintaining that professional distant.  

paidiraiompair: (papa's mountain)
I’ve been called a lot of things in my time, but deep inside, I am most proud of “mom”.  Now my kids are awesome adults, but I still have the inclination of a driver throwing my arm across a passenger at a sudden stop. It’s a conditioned response, to try to save someone the pain of a fall, even ourselves.  The initial signs of my condition were uncontrolled painful shakes and a loss of balance.  Theatre trained since 6, knowing “how to fall” saved me many an injury.  Rarely saved was my dignity, though an occasional flourish of the arms to nailed a landing, hid the fear of this unknown thing that was happening to me.   

It’s been ten years and there have been some things medical science has been able to “fix”, and some that it cannot.  I arm myself with knowledge and a regime to keep me mobile and self reliant.  It isn’t my nature to forever grieve and there are things bigger and better in life than unencumbered walking.  (Yeah, I said it!) If I have learned anything from life, it’s adapt and move on.  Given the opportunity, I knew it was my chance to “dance anyway”.  A year later, the title “professional” dancer is,  by definition, correct, but I have much to learn to reached  the skill level I see in the Company.  Another day of mastering “tilts” in rehearsal today kicked up a familiar demon in me. 

 My orthopedist calls it the “fear/pain response”.  Fear causes the body to hesitate, pain cause the body to “lean” away from the cause.  Though it is “normal”, one has to constantly be aware that  hesitation can lead to panic, leaning  to inappropriate compensating and BOTH can lead to a heap of body on the floor.   Falling has its consequences beyond bruises, but that is true for everyone.  Seated dancers don’t statistically injure themselves more often than standees. We’ve all taken out each other’s toes and delivered a limb to an eye.   I knew I wasn’t really afraid of the  drop or even pain.  I know falling is just a means to the end of gaining experience and confidence of what I CAN train my body to do.  But….

“What if I never measure up, what if I can’t be as poised, as quick, as precise, as strong, as…..

       ah, there it was……. Failure. 

“Never giving up” doesn't always mean success, and practice doesn't always make perfect. These are hard truths in an optimistic heart.  But beyond “try try again” is something our director often says, ADAPT!  We are all pushed to the standards of the most accomplished around us, and we judge ourselves accordingly sometimes. Yet, if the boss sees it isn’t working, it doesn’t mean one is “out”.  Like any artist, the laws of physics can be an inconvenient truth, but it is also a sign that he never thinks of us inside a box, off in a corner or “confined to a chair”.  Sometimes adaptation is the mother of invention, and a close kin to imagination too.  Now that is the kind of “inspiration” I can seriously get behind.  So, setting up this evening on icepacks, I can at least know that today I didn’t give in to fear, took the fall, and have the proud bruise to prove it.   

paidiraiompair: (koala jester)

I have a new post for "Back on the Floor" in the works, but since one of the things I love (with a million floaty hearts) is a great youtube that shows the joy and laughter dance can bring to anyone and everyday.  This one shows how Mom's "line dancing" and Son's "hip hop" meet in a wonderful wacky way! 

paidiraiompair: (dreaming)

It’s been a week since I took off for one of my favorite times of year: DragonCon. Once, only a time to earn extra bucks working the dealers’ room, being a roadie for the band, or acting as escort and “My Girl Friday” to the likes of DeAnna Troi or the chick from “MythBusters, it has since morphed into a combination college class reunion and vital away time from “mom” duties. Sure I still bartend a bit or watch a booth from time to time, but after 26 years, it is mostly this girl’s time to R &R. 

 

Time to let my hair down, literally. Being in rehearsal, dance class and the gym so much, my hair pretty much lives piled on top of my head. Con is the place to nurture my inner “pretty girl” with fancy dress, make up and real hair styles. It is also the season for dancing; club style, Irish gig, slow couple sway.   I’d been shy to show my moves outside the Company, plush carpets and crowds with unguarded toes made it difficult to be inconspicuous on the dance floor. . I had already wasted the first night on the sidelines, nursing the old feelings of lost. However, my apprenticeship had taught me control in small spaces and built muscle in my arms to cope with tough terrain The music called to my heart, wine and friends made my bold. I took a deep breath, and spun out to the middle of it all. 

 

I ignored the shocked looks and cell phones capturing what to them was an unusual sight. I focused on the beat, the smile of my partner, the feel of the floor. Soon the karaoke singers drew the focus, and I relaxed. The following night, at the Mechanical Masquerade, dressed in our steampunk finery, I danced alone, swung between two handsome men, and even the “time warp” with my gang. Resting between sets, well wishers whisked away by my entourage as their admiration was about to turn “inspirational”, I looked back out at the crowd. Ok, so now, “Dances with Wheels” might be a novelty, but repetition can breed acceptance, or at least a level of mutual comfort. That’s a good thing, cause I got my dancin’ shoes back on, high heeled and wheels pumped. My place on the bench is gonna be empty, and who knows, next year I hope to be joined by others who, not matter what life dishes out, are gonna dance anyway.    

paidiraiompair: (alligator)
    "titled "Dance of Pregnant," by Victor Bezrukov

One challenge in being in a company, is that with new choreography, I can be left/right dyslexic.  I know it's just that I am concentrating "too much" but there's a part of my brain that has to take it's step by step "logic" before it can allow the rest of the body to really dance.  So when I was asked for the first time to show a movement to our new "AB" dancers, I simply demonstrated while giving them the count I'd so carefully drummed into my brain.  However, the count for them was awkward and off.  Turning to watch, I realized the mistake was two fold and MINE.  

Smiling at me patiently they demonstrated that they had TWO sets of appendages that needed movement and they DIDN'T need an extra count sneaked in for a wheel push to continue to move forward.  Though I spent a lot of my 20 years in theatre dancing  and directing musicals, the change in modus operandi is still being processed in my poor backwards mind.  Though I am starting to find some movements in my chair more "natural" , there are times, I know, that my two feet, are causing me to stumble.  Only when I strapped my feet down to the plate was I able to make my first semi successful side tilt today.  That and the kindness of a dance partner who encouraged me with a smile to take my time and find my way.  
paidiraiompair: (dance warm up)
"Back on the Floor" is a new part of this journal as I formally begin my first year as a full member of FRD"

As of Friday, the company is back in the studio with 3 new “AB” dancers, “abled bodied/standees or what I refer to simply as bi-peds.   There’d been auditions before and during the summer months, and I did my part to partner as we put them through the basics. Besides dancing aptitude, “AB’s” have to also have a comfort level when working with us “wheelies” (or “seated dancers”). There is always the initial awkwardness, the run-over toe, misplaced hands, the look of confusion when told to “tilt” one of us. 

 

Now here I have to confess, that I have my own odd sense of humor. I find the funniest moments are the first time they drop one of us. It happens to wheelies just like any other dancer, but when you are not used to seeing one sprawled onto the floor or flipped over backwards, an instinctive panic goes across the bi-pedal face. In rehearsal, we are left to our own devices unless the “safe word” broccoli is called. Yeah you heard me, “broccoli”. And it’s a challenge too, like kids who don’t want to be the first one to say “uncle”.   I personally would rather unstrap myself from the chair and crawl out of the carnage, especially if my “assistant” doesn’t know what they are actually doing. “Helpful help”, is gimp rule number 5.

 

Anyway, each wheelie was partnered with the different candidates, as each of our body abilities differ. From the seasoned pro, the “all abs” and the self referred “Gimp with a Limp”, I fall into line as the apprentice who just earned her place on the floor. The “ab's" approach us in their own ways too. There were the ones who are so caught up in their own “audition” that it was hard to really connect to them in partnered pieces. Others so focused on not trying to harm us, they almost certainly did. There were the gems who both had good dance ability coupled with an open mind. One stole my respect with an air of “I’m just here to dance, and so are you”. I confess to my bias.

 

When one finds themselves “otherwise capable”, due to a sudden event or a slow digression of the body, those around us, whether friends or passing acquaintances, make their own adjustments. It came to me that there is a sort of “audition” for them after the initial awkwardness of our new “normal” and you never know if they will make the cut. Some wash out, they can’t let go of their own preconceived ideas and comfort levels. Others “try too hard” and miss that we don’t want to be “inspirational”, we just want to get through our days. The keepers are the ones who stumble with the changes at first, but stay connected with us as people. Pretty soon though, they are moving right along with you, they hear the music. Those are the folks I want to stay, and in that way, dance with, cause they are the ones that “get me”.
paidiraiompair: (leggo)
I am often asked my thoughts on "bipediquette" a term coined by me and mine to address better ways of interaction between the bi-pedal and gimp world.  Though this is a blog about dance, I think it's only fair to post my experiences that led me there.  I tried to put into words that "in a chair, through dance, I feel "graceful" in a way I do not on "two legs".  This essay, Border Gimps" was written as a "train of thought" and was recently inquired of me by a dear friend, it was reposted here.  (clicky the "here")

On another note, I wanted to share my excitement that My GImpy Life is coming to YouTube:

PS I am TOTALLY stealing the line about the sex chair....
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