Dancing as Resistence
Every time a start a project like a blog, I promise myself that disability is one subject I won’t write about–partly because I don’t want to throw a pity party, and but mainly because I always underestimate the amount I allow disability to interfere with my life, and in my defense, I have allowed it to do so much less than it used to. There was a time when I consciously and deliberately denied myself opportunities saying, “Don’t do this, Dani. Your Dyspraxia will make it difficult.” Or worse: I milked the disability. I don’t do this anymore. Instead, the limitations that I’ve imposed on myself in recent years have been largely subconscious–I’ve hardly noticed them at all–and it was therefore easy for me to believe that they were gone from my life, and why write about something that does not exist? But something profound happened tonight, and I think that it’s worth sharing.
First, some background information: when I was five I was diagnosed with mild Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) also known as Developmental Dyspraxia, which, as the name suggests, affects my coordination, muscle tone, and sometimes Sensory Integration, but because I had the privilege of being diagnosed at such a young age, I never had to deal with a severe form–and it consequently doesn’t affect my life all that much. But it does to a certain degree. Anyway, tonight was the culmination of Krakow’s Jewish Culture Festival (whose very existence seems unbelievable considering that the city has only 400 Jews) in the form of a giant Klezmer Festival, and as many as 10,000 people came to dance in the streets of the Jewish Quarter square. I’d danced a little, if one could call it that; in actuality it was more like a half-hearted sway. I was sitting down near a few teachers relaxing when some people from the group ran in and declared that it would be midnight of July 8–Tsipy’s birthday–in five minutes, and that she had to come dance with them. As they got up to go, I continued to sit, fully intending to sit this one out.
“Dani Plung,” said Mr. Smith. “Go dance.”
“Nah,” I responded, “I’m fine.” I can’t be around crowds and loud noises because of my Dyspraxia, I thought, somewhere in the deep confines of my mind.
“I did already.” You’re so uncoordinated; you’ll look like an idiot, I thought.
“You can be angry with me later. Just go.”
And so grudgingly, I went. And had a blast. I don’t think I’ve ever felt a greater sense of unity. I was dancing to Klezmer–which I had done since I was ten or eleven years old–with people I knew and didn’t know, in the streets of a city of which I knew little. But I felt like me and not just the person I’d constructed for myself for the first time in a long time. But more than that–I COULD deal with the loud noises and the crowds. I COULD dance. And I actually enjoyed myself. So thank you, Mr. Smith.As I reflect on this, I, once again, find myself thinking of Howard and other Survivors and even those that perished. They didn’t let their scenarios beat them. They chose to try to live when death seemed inevitable. They chose to uphold a culture when their humanity itself was threatened. They chose to fight their circumstances and the limits they caused. And if they did that, who am I to do the opposite?