Nickie Coby (puppybraille) wrote,
Nickie Coby

Just Dance!

Recently, CNN ran an article entitled
Dance Class a Gift for Special Students, Instructor
this caught my attention because from the age of seven to the age of sixteen, I was a dancer. Every two weeks, one of my parents and I went to a dance class specifically designed for students with many types of disabilities. I think that wheelchair dancing was on a separate day, but each student had her/his own unique needs. I remember that at first, I couldn't understand many of the concepts, but as I got older, I came to look forward to the movement, the music, the social interaction.

I once attended a ballroom dancing class specifically designed for people with visual impairments and would've continued to do that, if I hadn't gotten RSD. Even so, dancing was a huge gift for me.

Oh, the pain!

I'm not actually the only one who got RSD as a dancer.
Cynthia Toussaint experienced this too
her story is both heartbreaking and life affirming. While dance brought both of us pain, I can only speak for myself when I say that I wouldn't go back and not have danced.

Dancing for Healing

But dance can bring healing and transformation., too. In fact, there's actually a therapy known as Dance Movement Therapy. I was blessed to participate in one class of this, and I found it beneficial.
Dance Therapy

The great thing about dance is it doesn't have to mean fancy footwork, performing or even getting all of the moves right. Dance can be an expression of emotion, and even a stabilizer of emotions. The one rule I follow is to listen not only to the music, but also to my body. Do I need to dance from my bed or a chair? That's fine. Do I need to modify a movement because it hurts? Okay. Do I need to just imagine myself dancing because the thought of moving makes me ill? Then that's what I do.

Much of this I learned in the class I took, but I've also been fortunate to be a reader of the
Dancing with Pain Blog
I'll be honest, when I firsst became aware of this blog, I thought "I'll never be able to dance again", but I kept reading. The class I was a part of and the new iPod Touch have motivated me to start using dancing to help me heal. These are the benefits I've noticed so far:

  • Less stiffness.

  • Some pain relief

  • Relief of feelings of anxiety, worthlessness and sadness

  • An overall boost to my self-esteem

Dance isn't a cure all for me. I still have bad RSD, but it's one tool I can pull out to make myself feel better.

So how Does a Blind Person Dance?

I get this question a lot. I got it with Tai Chi too. I don't know what others prefer to do, but here's how I learned. Basically, learning dance as a blind person required a lot of trust. It required feeling others move and moving myself. Sometimes, it required letting someone else move my arm or even my leg (with additional physical support). But when I think about it, most of my knowledge of dancing says that that's true whether you have a disability or not.

How I dance now

The way I dance now is obviously very different. I have less trust when it comes to touch, and some movements aren't possible for me right now. I have to be much more aware of what my body is telling me. Is it a "hurts so good" moment or a "bad hurt" moment? Am I close to something painful? Does my body want to do this movement? How do I feel emotionally when I move this way?

All of these are factors, but the advantage is that these should transfer over to the rest of my life. That kind of check-in is important whether you're ill, well, dancing or living!

Guiding my Steps

Of course no discussion of dance would be complete without talking about dancing with a partner. Obviously, I started to learn this in ballroom dancing, but the times when I dance with a partner most are when I work with Julio. As we weave through tables at a restaurant, I must trust him and let him lead me. I must be responsive to his every move. This article
Dancing With Dogs
gives me goose bumps, especially now that I'm traveling with Julio again. I've been given the gift of a wonderful leader, and am
experiencing that joy more intensely than ever
it truly is like dancing.

A Few Motivating Videos

If this post hasn't inspired you to dance, and the other sites haven't, maybe these videos will:
Tags: anxiety, blindness, blogs, chronic illness, chronic pain, coping skills, dance, depression, disability related, health, holistic therapies, ipod touch, music and movies, my writing, relaxation, rsd sucks, tai chi, tai chi chuan, tool box
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