In 2019 I was diagnosed with Generalized Myasthenia Gravis which translates to “Grave Muscle Weakness.” Back in the olden days the prognosis for a person with this auto-immune disease was not good. Most if not all persons died from not having the muscle strength to breath anymore…yikes.
Today with knowledge, education and medication, doctors (mainly neurologists) are comfortable with treating someone such as myself that has had the unfortunate mishap of contracting this disease. I have to say that it was amusing to watch as the four neurologists that I was seeing in the very beginning were bouncing me from one to the other trying to determine the best course of action of how to care for me…poor guys. Who could blame them – the more I educated myself about what I was facing, the clearer I became of the fact that this disease is not going to be something that I am going to beat anytime soon. In reality, I had to reconcile with the fact that I am going to be living with this guy for a long time and possibly for the rest of my life.
I find it ironic for someone that has had a long and successful career in dance to have contracted something called, “Grave Muscle Weakness.” On the other had, if I were going to get something terrible, I would have wanted it to have something to do with my body and not my mind. Having to be in-tune with my body practically all of my life through dance, kind of prepared me for this type of disease. Whether I am siting, standing or walking, I am never on my balance. I can’t jump – I can’t do a gran plié. Pirouettes are unthinkable. Grand battment are unthinkable. My feet and calves want to cramp all the time and going up stairs could be met with days of recovery. I won’t event attempt to point my feet or releve’ due to the dire consequences that are associated with such an action. Myasthenia Gravis could be hell on earth, however, because of my belief in my approach to movement, something that could be thought of as catastrophic, has turned into something of wonder, curiosity and an opportunity for learning.
Dance is language – In order to expand your reach, the dancer will benefit from being open to learning more than one language.
Many moons ago, for reasons unknown to me at the time, I was fascinated by all forms of movement regardless of whether it was related to dance or just plain old pedestrian movement. Today I have become this vast encyclopedia of movement that even now I continue to expand upon. MG has me in constant motion – my head bobs and swirls as I sit, my body undulates when I stand, my body weight shifts as I walk causing me to zig and zag – pause and start again. Instead being informed about movement from the outside in, I am now developing a movement vocabulary from the inside out…fascinating.
So I write.
My hope is for anyone that is curious about beginning a career in dance, or interested in teaching or just want to dance for recreational purposes, will visit this site to learn from any insights that I provide based on my career as a professional dancer and dance educator and possibly share your experience with others.
Dani performed with Twyla Tharp Dance, American Ballet Theatre and ODC/San Francisco and is a Dance Educator with an Educational Masters Degree in Dance Education from Rutgers University. He taught for three years at PS 191 in Crown Heights Brooklyn and currently resides in Kingston, Rhode Island.