Written by Fadzaiishe Rebecca Ziramba:
I used to tell stories through dance. Each leap, twist, and turn held great emotion. I shared secrets through dance. I told of my sorrow and I told of my joy.
My dance journey began in my grandmother’s house in Zimbabwe circa 2003 when the vibrant sounds of Africa led me to move in jubilance. I instinctively loved to dance. When I encountered YouTube and its dance tutorials at the age of 10 I began to learn what seemed to come naturally. I leapt and twirled throughout my living room until I began to make sense of rhythm and my body and melody became one.
It wasn’t shocking when I chose to attend an art focused secondary school to pursue dance. I felt at home on the dance floor, at home in my bodysuit and dance shoes.
One fateful day marked the end of my dance career. It was not an ominous or eerie day. I certainly couldn’t have guessed what was to come. Like most days when tragedy occurs, it was normal, filled with the normal activities of a high school student. Pain has a way of screaming into normalcy.
I sauntered into my dance class, changed into my leotard and took to the stage. I leapt into the air as I performed a “grand jete” (a jump in which a dancer springs from one foot to land on the other with one leg forward and the other stretched backward while in the air). I expected to land square on both feet. I did not. My knee dislocated mid-air and I fell with a thunder to the floor (on my knee I might add). That fateful day likely changed the course of my life.
The months that followed included ugly knee brace wearing, intensive physical therapy, and the warning from a doctor to seize dancing. “You have a condition in which your knees dislocate,” a doctor told me.
“You’ll be in a wheel chair by the time you are 40 if you do not stop dance training now.”
I did not want to obey that instruction, yet in tears, I did.
I dropped dance and began to pursue visual storytelling.
It’s sad isn’t it? Don’t you like I do, wonder what I might have been as a dancer had I continued?
Sorrow can make way for triumph if we allow it.
I began to focus on other interests I’d seemingly ignored; writing, photography, film, visual arts. I excelled in these art forms and these art forms led me to journalism, namely multimedia storytelling. Multimedia storytelling led me to an opportunity to document a New York dance FLIP. I travelled with 16 dedicated Story Arts Centre dance performance students. I observed as they danced with passion. I journeyed to notable dance studios like the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. I’d only dreamt of such things.
It feels like my story turned full circle doesn’t it?
Today, I still tell stories. Through poetry, prose, photography, and video, I tell stories brimming with truth and emotion. I share secrets through storytelling. I not only tell of my own sorrow and joy, but that of others.