Dancing with a Disability; The Body is a Haunted House






Last Saturday, October 30th, the Bodies Never Lie dance company had our second show since opening in August. The theme was all things Halloween, haunted, and horrifying. Which means yes, I did a solo. Absolutely horrifying!

It’s a piece of old Southern folklore that evil spirits who come out at night can be trapped in glass bottles hung in trees. The myth of these ‘bottle trees’ began with clear traces in the Congo in the 17th century. It can possibly go further back to Egypt, Mesopotamia and Africa with the beginning of glass bottle in the markets. The idea is that when placed in the trees, especially at a cross roads, the sprits will climb in the bottle and be unable to climb back down the narrow bottleneck and will remain trapped there until morning when the sun will destroy them.

Shining a light on all bad things tends to lessen their power, right? At least it does in mythology.

The idea of trapping these spirits fascinates me, I suppose because I feel as though I have so many ghosts of the past trapped within myself, my memory and my body. Not other spirits, more like versions of myself that remain with me because the idea that the ghost of myself that didn’t have diabetes, that didn’t have a disability from the severe neuropathy, that will be able to dance again like I used to, is hard to let go. I want to bring her back to life and would gladly swap her for the body I have currently, with it’s limitations and chronic pain. In this way, I can’t tell if my former self is trapped within my memory or if my current self is trapped within the former self’s shadow.

I haen’t fully made peace with this current version so I made this solo to help, and to shine some light on those dark paces where I let this ghost live.

I can’t say it was fully enjoyable dancing again, since I can still remember so clearly what it feels like to jump and turn with less weakness. The sensation of being unstable and fragile when I expect, from years of experience to feel graceful and powerful is disorienting on the good days, depressing and crushing on the days when I’m tired of this. I’m working on the idea that being in my body, and dancing, can be good regardless of my physical condition, especially in comparison to a former or idealized physical condition. I’m doing what I can do now.

In this way, I feel fully present. And fully alive.

Are you holding on to any ghosts from our past?

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