Reasons to Dance

But I'm Not Dead Yet

Category: dance

Crap I Live Through

The day’s not over yet

Hi. My name is Karen. I’m a bit broken, but, I’m still alive…technically. I have several diseases/syndromes/injuries from an athletic life spent dancing, along with several  life-altering-violent-horrible-ness-es constantly running through my brain and body.

All of them are invisible.

On the outside I look relatively healthy, strong even. But, I’m not so much…I’m working on it though…Maybe if I share some of the crap I’ve drudged/am drudging through, I can comfort or ease or inspire someone else who struggles with these same rotten challenges.

Here’s what’s to come,if you choose to follow along:

I’ve had this horrible, sometimes exciting, adventurous, silly, beautiful, life so far. And because of that, I have a few stories of trial and failure along with a couple of successes. Most of my stories include

f

             a

                         l

                                      l

                                                      i

                                                                     g

either

                metaphorically

or

                                emotionally

or

                                                     actually

I’ve been sick or injured my entire life. Which is exhausting.  I nearly died at birth and then again at 9 months, 25, 41, 42, etc… My legs came out of the birth canal in a curious, creative design. More with a sense of experimental wonder than “In His image.” Leg braces and ballet followed which helped to straighten out my crooked design.

Dancing saved my life.

I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), Lupus, Hemophilia, POTS, MCAS and a death defying sense of reckless ambition.

This is what Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome looks like. Convenient for a dancer.

I’m currently dealing with PTSD due to some childhood sexual abuse, a college stalking and rape that is currently being reviewed by the Sacramento District Attorney’s office as I’m a potential victim of the Golden State Killer. Oh and I have an undiagnosed  bi-polar mother who now has dementia. Fun memories. Memories that have just been splashing across my mind way too much lately..

Do you have any of these issues? Want to talk about it? Or hear how I’m dealing? Stick with me, I’ve probably tried something that might help you. Or will at least make you chuckle and thus save you from trying it yourself.

I’m a former professional dancer and actress. I’ve been a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall, along with appearing in a few television series and films and a ton of theater. I love everything about music and dance and acting and laughing.  I teach these things now. It is unbelievably rewarding.

“Tell a man a joke and he laughs for a second. Teach a man what’s funny about his life, he laughs forever.” Me. I said that. I THINK it’s true.

I’m hoping to offer some comfort or courage or sense of humor to find your own reasons to get up in the morning, and then eventually, to dance.

Any of these things your story too?

This movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail,  just cracks me up! If you haven’t seen it, you might want to check it out, because there’s a good chance you will laugh out loud and there is almost nothing better than that.

I have actually crossed over, died for a few minutes, but I didn’t. I must still be here because there is something left for me to do. The same goes for you. You are here to make a difference. It doesn’t matter if it seems small to you.

Thank you  for your time.

Karen 

My first attempt to fly

She Said Yes





Photo: She said yes! Flash mob for Elmer Garcia to propose to  his beautiful Christine. With Zachary Robertin, Hannah Burns, Ellen Wolff's elbow,   Kimi Cunningham, Jeff Clevenger, Lauren Kotrozo, Keith Burns, Breanna Tomko, Phillip Giandiletti, Julianne, and a few more! Thank you dancers!Love seems to be the best reason to dance. And it didn’t even cross my mind until I met Elmer. Elmer. who wanted a flash mob to propose to his longtime girlfriend, Christine, because she loves dancing. She doesn’t dance, but she loves to see people dancing. It makes her happy and touches her heart and because Christine makes Elmer happy and touches his heart, he wanted to give her some dancing.
Along with his proposal.

So through many, many steps Elmer found me and I was able to help him say to Christine, “You’ve been my everything and you’ve been my world for a long time.Will you marry me?”  Even though what he’d planned to say was, “You’ve been my everything and you’ve been my world for a long time, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Together we have had so many amazing moments and accomplished so much. I cannot think of anyone better to spend the rest of my life with.  Today, here and now, I would like to make sure we last forever.  Christine Marie Clauss, will you marry me?” 

But, he couldn’t get that out. The supportive cheering from the crowd over-took the words.

As a choreographer, I usually have to delay the start of rehearsals waiting for performers to arrive from the five other places they needed to be or pry the dancers off the floor to painfully begin the process of  “working” on a dance. But, with this project the dancers arrived early and began to rehearse before I even got there. Dancing full out every time and asking to run it over and over. It was precious and so much giddy fun.

When our art is not just for ourselves, but to express a higher purpose, the joy is increased exponentially.

So, I think it’s saying yes to love.And trusting that you are equally loved by that person enough to get down on one knee. To humble yourself before the love of your life, plus your family who flew in, and a pack of dancing strangers…it makes me cry every time I think about it.

Photo

On August 5th, at 7:00 pm, the families and friends were hidden on the Hooter’s balcony across the street. Elmer and Christine were casually walking down Mill Avenue in Tempe on their way to dinner. The dancers nervously awaited inconspicuously near the corner of Mill and 5th Avenue’s. I was nearly catatonic with fear that the music wouldn’t be loud enough, that the dancers would forget the steps they’d so carefully rehearsed, that I wouldn’t get Elmer’s message when he bent down to tie his shoe and surreptitiously text me “Go.”And that Christine wouldn’t be thrilled.

I got the text, the dancers mostly remembered, when Elmer jumped in to dance with us on the lyrics “It’s like I waited my whole life for this one night – it’s gonna be me and you forever – forever on the dance floor” Christine cautioned him not to jump in to the dance because he didn’t know it, and when Elmer dropped to his knee, she put her hands to her face, thrilled.

The stunned Christine said yes, and all of our worlds got that much better because we got to be a part of the beginning of theirs. 

I asked Keith, my husband of almost 20 years, to dance in the flash mob. I needed one more guy. He obliged out of a sense of duty to me. And then he cried when he danced, he cried when he watched the video and yesterday he brought me flowers. He very rarely does any of these things, but Elmer and Christine reminded him that love is beautiful. A carefully answered “yes” can reach beyond the moment.

Photo
Forever.
Keith had this to say:  “Watch this for the rare magic that music, dance, and surprise can create – and watch it for the beauty of the human spirit. Goodness is here.”

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