Anyone who knows me at all knows I love dance. I love to dance; I love to watch dancers. I don’t claim to be good at it … I just love it. For me, dance embodies Haanel’s 3-7 quote, “When the Solar Plexus is in active operation and is radiating life, energy and vitality to every part of the body, and to every one whom he meets, the sensations are pleasant, the body is filled with health and all with whom he comes in contact experience a pleasant sensation.” That’s what I experience when I dance or when I see others dance.
Now, who’s Suzanne? Well, I met Suzanne Ryan and another incredible woman, Lisa Sirridge, at the Bolender Center For Creative Movement when it opened with a Dance Day event several years ago. I was so impressed, I took classes from them both for awhile. Lisa teaches Pilates and Suzanne taught Modern dance at that time. Both inspired me. Both moved me — helped me correct my posture and positioning to get the best out of my body and help make it stronger.
Suzanne, an incredibly talented choreographer (you can view clips of her work in the video above) has since then begun to teach dance for patients with Parkinson’s Disease. But she has taken that incredible gift and made it shine even brighter. She has choreographed a beautiful work called “A Tulip Unfolding“. This amazing work premiered at the Kansas City Fringe Festival two years ago. I was invited by both Suzanne and Lisa (Lisa’s daughter, Grace, was one of the dancers. (Since I’ve known Lisa, I’ve known Grace, a beautiful young woman who’s talent, beauty and brains fit her name perfectly.) I wasn’t able to attend since I was working for the festival at another venue.
In the past week, however, I got to witness what I think is the most powerful performance of “A Tulip Unfolding” I will ever come to know. This event, starring Suzanne’s choreography and Grace’s dancing talent, along with several other talented UMKC dancers, was presented at the UMKC Student Union Theater. This unique dance tells the stories of 5 patients with Parkinson’s Disease. Some of the moves included were specifically created by the patients themselves, and 4 of the 5 were in attendance. To see the dancers connect with the sources of their stories and to experience this phenomenal heart-felt iteration of the real people behind the disease was an incredibly moving experience.
At some point down the road, dear reader, you too, will have an opportunity to witness this spectacular story. A film crew has been following the creation and performance of this dance. They filmed the initial interviews with the patients, the dancers and their experience in learning about the disease and the patients, and they filmed the performance. The documentary is being edited now.
But what added to this special event at the college blew me away in another direction. Even though this performance was open to anyone, it was particularly created for the students of the UMKC School for Medicine? WHAT? Doctors in training learning their craft from DANCE?
Yes!! And this is another connection through my friend, Lisa. Her awesome husband, Chris Sirridge, a doctor, was there representing his parents, Doctors William and Marjorie Sirridge, who created the Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities and Bioethics. How amazing is that? A unique organization designed to help new doctors get in touch with the humanity of their work. “The mission of the Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities and Bioethics is to integrate arts, humanities and bioethics into THE STUDY AND PRACTICE OF medicine.” How amazing is that?
“Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.” — Hippocrates
Haanel says, “It is evident, therefore, that all we have to do is let our light shine; the more energy we can radiate, the more rapidly shall we be enabled to transmute undesirable conditions into sources of pleasure and profit.” (3-13)
These women (and Dr. Chris) helped me to really picture and ponder, how can I shine as brightly as they do? They bring pleasure and profit (in the form of information, awareness, and healing) by doing what they love and sharing it. They are telling important stories to open the heart and to create change, to bring humanity to the art of medicine in this day and age. They lend their energy and their own radiance to give to life. How fortunate I am to know them all. First you helped me move my body. Now you have moved me more deeply – in my heart. I love you guys.