Four legs – on dancing with injuries
Reviewed By: Open Floor International
Open Floor International
Language availability: English
Tamar Eyni-lehman from Kfar Adumim, Israel is a music therapist, psychotherapist, group analyst, supervisor and college teacher. She has been dancing for 15 years and is training to be an Open Floor teacher. Here she tells us about dancing with an injured leg after an accident.
It was five days before I was due to leave for France for the first module of the teacher training. I was crossing the street when a motorbike crashed into me and caused a huge wound on my leg. I had to have an emergency operation and many stitches. It was a shock but I was determined to go to the training. The first thing I asked the doctor after the operation was whether I could still go and dance. I was on a mission. I really didn’t want to give up this dream!
I knew that I would need to rest a lot, and that I wouldn’t be able to dance the way I usually do. I told myself that whatever I could do, and however I could take part, would be something gained…a bonus.
I came to the module with a sense of curiosity. I knew that Open Floor was the perfect container for me to explore what would it be like to dance differently. I’m usually right in the middle of the action. I like to dance “big”, to be dominant…to travel around the room, take up space… be in the centre of it. I tried to see this injury as a great opportunity to disrupt those patterns and see what it was like to dance on a chair or lying down instead.
I kept up a positive mind set throughout the training, reminding myself that I would eventually heal and that this was a temporary setback. That it was just a question of time. And in the end, it was a fantastic experience. I learned so much…
I was surprised to see that I can be “in the centre”, even if I’m lying down and not moving around. Even more unexpected was noticing the relief I felt at not having to be big… not having to put a lot of effort into being seen. I discovered the power of witnessing and watching too.
Making the chair an integral part of my dance was another amazing experience. Having four legs to dance with offered many new opportunities for movement and I had to dance creatively to find them. I have never danced like that before, never really used the chair because I never needed to. And thought I didn’t have the patience to be sitting down for so long. Now I know I can dance in any position. The session we did with Nele Vandezande, where everyone was on a chair was also a revelation because we were all “disabled” and it felt like I was really part of it.
And it is this sense of inclusion that really made the difference. The fact that I was seen and taken care of, that so many people came to dance with me. The whole group was so warm and welcoming. I was especially grateful when someone noticed I was in pain and they dragged a mattress right onto the dance floor. I was able to lie down and rest without having to check out of the group. This gave me the motivation to keep on showing up every day and keep on finding new ways to dance.
Words by Audrey Boss
Photography by Tamar Eyni-lehman and Theva Indrasenan