"G-d and Rehearsal"

We’ve been working at St. Elizabeths Hospital in DC all this week creating dances with two groups of patients. I’m not permitted to mention their names, but I want to tell you about what they’ve said and what they’ve done this week.

Just a few brief snapshots:

…the man who came in on the first day of our workshop entirely hunched over and never lifted his head, although he did all of the movement we created with the group. On the second day when we put on some music with a Latin beat, he straightened right up and danced up a storm.

…the woman who kept saying, “I don’t know what to do” and then made a beautiful duet with a company member.

…the man who said, after the third day of our workshop,  “We’ve gotten to know each other better. We feel comfortable with each other.”

…a young man who has lived at St. Elizabeths for 14 years said: “You look just like my grandmother” and then told me a wonderful story about how she encouraged him to try things he thought were too hard.

…the woman who is afraid to perform, but said she’ll come back tomorrow anyway.

…the man who said, “We’re not mental illness, we’re professionals” as he balanced on one foot for a very long time.

…the man who said wistfully, “Once I had a girlfriend who was a ballerina.”

…the man with the sunglasses and beads who made a fierce duet with Cassie.

…the young man who could barely say his name loud enough to be heard, who watched most of the first day and then on the second allowed himself to try just one thing.

…the way each participant’s face lights up when he realizes he has succeeded at something.

…the man who said, “Oh no, I don’t dance” and sat at the side.  I said,  “Well, watch for a while and if you change your mind, jump in.”  A few minutes later, our trio became a quartet.

…the man who stepped up and took charge of directing a group piece.

…the dancing!  The wonderful, unexpected, beautiful dancing.

…And the man who said, after showing a touching duet he helped to make, “I was afraid to dance, but G-d helped me” to which Ben answered,  “Yes, G-d and rehearsal.”

About Shula Strassfeld

Shula Strassfeld began dancing “too late” and has been dancing ever since. She joined Dance Exchange in 2007.