I am not a very good dancer but I love to dance. One of my favourite choreographers, Sonya Tayeh, was recently nominated for an Emmy for her choreography. I have loved her work from the very first time she choreographed for So You Think You Can Dance. My favourite pieces of hers have been Kathryn and Legacy’s jazz piece to ‘So Deep’, Kayla and Kupono’s contemporary dance to ‘Eyes on Fire’, the top 20 jazz performance to ‘XR2’, and Caitlin and Marko’s dance to ‘Heavy in Your Arms.’
I know – from watching her work on So You Think You Can Dance – that she is notoriously tough and has a strong work ethic. It makes me wonder what she could tease out of me if I worked with her. I am not the best technical dancer but I know she would push me beyond my limitations – especially with regards to the stiffness in my pelvis and legs and the weakness in my feet – and bring something out of me that other people haven’t before. Teachers (and others) often allow me to stay within my comfort zone rather than pushing me out of it and showing me not only my weaknesses, but my potential. I think Sonya would not work around my disability, but rather push me to show myself the capabilities and strengths I don’t believe I possess. I think she would make me cry and I would end up fairly bruised from class, but I would understand – and feel – that I am far more physically competent than I allow myself to be. I tend to allow myself to feel weak when I encounter adversity, but I think she would make me feel stronger.
Sonya’s choreography is memorable and moving. It touches everyone in a profound and deeply affecting way. I understand that people might consider me ‘inspirational’ if they ever saw me perform a piece of Sonya’s, but I would rather be considered (or at least remembered) for the power she would bring out of me (rather than the fact that she choreographed a piece involving an impaired dancer). Sonya challenges, pushes, and motivates the best dancers to be even better, and I think she would shake me out of complacency and that I could apply the skill she drew out of me to other forms of exercise and therapy. I think she would look not for problems in my body and my dancing, but possibilities and abilities. Rather than working with what I have or what I can do, she would show me that I can do things I believe I am incapable of. She would help me see my body not as weak, broken-down, and incapable, but strong and powerful. I would focus on besting my abilities rather than fixing my inabilities, and it would give me a stronger sense of wholeness. The spiritual and emotional elements of dance would open me up to the healing power that Sonya’s dance would have on me as a whole person and not just my physical body. Her work would push me into higher planes of physical capability and consciousness.