Where We Began
Six years ago I was diagnosed with severe myo-fascial pain syndrome from my waist down. The physical therapist said that I had the body of a 70 year old, and I was in so much pain he could barely touch my legs. The cause was a severely deranged disk in the lumbar region of my spine. I couldn’t get out of bed by myself in the mornings. My husband had to carry me up and down stairs, and there were many days I couldn’t dress myself or carry my children. The damage was mostly cumulative. I hadn’t been functioning well for several years, my dancing was suffering and I didn’t know what was wrong so I just kept trying. The day we realized that the physical therapy and hours of traction we’re not stimulating the tissues was one of the most horrible days of my life. We closed my ballet studio, and talked for long hours about what life would be like if the disc was permanently damaged and would eventually blow out completely. I was a dancer, this was my life. I had plans, children to raise, opportunities I hadn’t even begun to explore! In the process of grieving and accepting what might be a very different life than the one I’d imagined, we also decided to give therapy one more try.
In the spring of 2014, I graduated from physical therapy, enrolled in my first dance class in three years, and began the long, difficult journey of recovering what was once my life as a dancer. It was horrible! Nothing in my body worked right. I was stiff, immobile and still working on massaging out the scar tissue that had amassed in my legs and hips from the myo-fascial scarring. We kept it simple. I focused on massage, eating well and regaining the strength and mobility in my back one tiny movement at a time. The tension in my body caused by the injury had also led to to emergency cesarean surgeries for my children, and most of my core muscles wouldn’t engage at all. I can’t describe the depression I faced when they try to return to an activity with those kinds of injuries, and discover that not only the body has changed, but your inner self as well. I had changed, and in the coming years I would begin to discover this new person and the body that came with her, and that is how I found FRAME.
Artists often describe the creative process as one of discovery and exploration rather than ex-nihilo creation! And FRAME was no different. I FOUND it there, inside myself and around me in the daily movements of my children, co-workers, strangers on the street and distant friends in other cultures around the world. I found myself walking and dancing again out in the world and on the streets wanting to express the joy that I felt at being able to live again, through dance. I wanted to make people stop and see something in their lives that they hadn’t noticed before, just like I had spent the last six years learning to notice the tiny fractions of movement that made up my restricted world. The FRAME project continues every year as we go out and endeavor to create in and among people, posting video blogs of our work and collaborative efforts to capture the cultural moments that so frequently impact our lives. From art and architecture, to music and poetry or plain language, nothing is off-limits.
WHERE WE ARE TODAY:
The FRAME Project has now become an even greater vision for the Performing Arts through the council and development of many artists, professors, and friends. Our mission to Create, Articulate, and Preserve culture through the performing arts originated in what I learned over the years of pain, injury, recovery and discovery. If you were a fly on the wall of my music room, you’d see stacks of notecards and scraps of paper pinned to my cork board with letters, words, and images that had inspired me on my journey. Three words stand out above all the rest.
- The first is CREATE. I had to learn how to Create with my body, my voice and my mind without being able to move. I also began to notice how much we human beings create every day and throughout history. We have our story, and we come from the stories of others. Creation, then, is both an essential part of our nature and a force for shaping the culture of the future.
- Then I had to learn how to ARTICULATE that movement to others. I love that word, to “articulate.” It’s so much richer and juicier than simple verbal commands. It’s like watching the arms of a flamenco dancer in slow motion. They are precise, breathtaking and absolutely necessary. I had to articulate needs I never knew a human being could have through depression and intense physical pain. It’s a humbling and often humiliating process, but in it I discovered the beautiful articulation of movement that comes when you connect with the deepest part of yourself and then reveal it.
- The last word is PRESERVE. This might sound cliche, but when you’re watching the things you love the most slip through your fingers, and your child runs to you wanting to be held and you can’t lift him, you learn to preserve different things than you did before. Truth, goodness and beauty are not only worth preserving, it is the pursuit of preserving them that makes life worth living.
We are FrameMaker Arts, a growing group of artists who want to FRAME the future through our creativity, articulation and preservation efforts around the world. Soon these pictures of me will be replaced by those of others, and they will add their stories to our community!