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THE REST OF THE STORY
10 February 2006
There is a frustration in writing feature articles. For one thing, I get to meet and/or talk to really interesting people and their stories are fascinating. But when it comes to writing the actual article, I have to focus on only one part of the story and am forced to discard more than I actually use. (I also wonder how it makes people who have given me one of the "peripheral" interviews. They've provided me with tons of information, and I might use one or two points and discard the rest.)
The article I have just written concerns the upcoming dance program, Fears of Your Life (see the video of the day for thoughts about my writing process). I started by interviewing choreographer Kim Epifano, who is the focus of the article, but the more I spoke with her, the more it became obvious that the real story here was of Michael Bernard Loggins, of whom I spoke a couple of days ago.
I spoke with Francis Kohler, an art teacher who has worked with Michael for more than ten years. Francis gave me wonderful material, 75% of which didn't fit in an article about the dance program, but I wasn't as frustrated with having to discard his stuff (much of which was on the background of the art center where Michael works and on Michael's temperament), as I was discarding information from Judith Smith.
Judith Smith is the Artistic Director of Axis Dance Company, and it is her personal story that was fascinating, but totally unusable in my article.
She grew up in Colorado, where she was a champion equestrian, riding jumping horses. She was in a car accident when she was 17 and has been in a wheelchair ever since.
She moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1983 and began doing improvisational movement "as a way to get reacquainted with my body." She fell in love with the process and then in a martial arts class (of all things!) she met a woman who was in the process of founding Axis Dance Co., whose membership combines people with and without physical disabilities.
Smith says she was "so intrigued with moving and finding way to move my body and wheelchair again. I was instantly hooked. Not long after it took over my life." (As things like that often do, I'm sure many of us can attest!)
She had no dance background and was joining a group of people, many of whom had degrees in dancing prior to their injuries.
In discussing the whole idea of dance and movement for people who have physical disabilities, she says,
Judy Smith says that her group does a lot of traveling, and a lot of work in schools, performing for more than 20,000 kids a year. She says that it changes kids' outlooks on disability.
That's the thing that I hope that my article can get across to people, that it can sound intriguing enough that it will bring all sorts of people, and all ages, out to see the show. The puppets should intrigue kids.
The message seems to be loud and clear that we are all people, that some people can do things that other people can't and vice versa, but everybody has feelings, everybody is afraid, everybody is able to compensate for the loss of one of one or more pieces of the body.
For Michael Loggins, though he has a developmental disability, he is a well known San Francisco artist, with his work displayed at the Yerba Buena Center (part of the big Mondavi Center), his work read by an actor on NPR's "This American Life," and now his words transformed into a theatre piece which will get his message across to all sorts of people.
For Judy Smith, her physical disability has not held her back and she has taken her athletic body and learned to use it in different ways. She will be one of the dancers in Fears of Your Life and I hope that I have the opportunity to meet her.
Return of the Killer Corgis: I am still seething. The corgis were back at the dog park today--actually one is either a corgi/Jack Russell terrier mix or a JR terrier. Sheila had been playing with all the dogs in the park very nicely, but once again the JRT and she got into it as soon as the woman and her two dogs arrived, so I took Sheila to a far end of the park and we played "fetch/tag" for awhile. The other park dogs began congregating around the corgis, and there was warning barking going on, so Sheila ran over to check things out. I went over behind her and sat down next to the JR's mom, who had a Corgi in her lap. The Corgi, she explained, was not friendly at all. Any time a dog came near, the Corgi growled. (Why bring the dog to a dog park?)
The woman had been petting Sheila and eventually the Corgi growled at her. The JRT came running over and attacked Sheila, who, being bigger and stronger, attacked back and got the JRT pinned down. The humans were trying to separate them and I got Sheila off of the dog. The JRT mom (who is also the mean corgi mom) panicked because there was blood on her dog's neck. "Oh no! " I said. "Is she badly hurt?" About that time, we noticed that the blood was coming from Sheila's mouth. She had been bitten and there was blood pouring out of her mouth. Her tongue was blood red, my arms and my jacket had blood dripping off of them.
"Oh, good," said the JRT mom as she walked away. "Good," meaning it wasn't HER dog who was hurt, so no point in being concerned, even though it was HER dog who started it all.
Sheila seemed to be OK once she'd had a lot of water to wash off the blood, but I will make sure to steer clear of the killer corgis in the future.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Members of Axis Dance Company