As a talented dancer, Kat Hawkins didn’t always believe that anybody could dance. It took her taking a difficult journey to realize that all bodies are worthy of expressing themselves through dance. Here’s how Kat discovered that however you dance, you deserve to have your own rhythm this new year…
The words are in my head forever.
“I’m really sorry but we’re going to have to amputate your leg, it’s not healing.” What followed is a blur, it seems that the human body has the capability of protecting you from the worst moments, fading the edges so it’s not as sharp as it should be. I remember screaming out loud. Again it’s not a scream in my memory, but a tempered groan of pure pain. My first thought was dance. My one love, gone forever…
Without legs, I couldn’t dance. No way. It wasn’t possible.
I was 18, and in my third month of sleeping in a hospital bed, hospital food, medication, the painful 8 pm ending of family visits. The news that I would need my leg amputating below the knee was almost too much to deal with. Almost.
A few months down the road, and with both legs amputated, I was in a physio session talking about how dance was helping me learn to walk on prosthetics quickly. “It’s your core strength balance,” my physio said, as I struggled to hold on to the bars that were stopping me from falling straight on to the floor while pulling my incredibly baggy jeans up around my waist. The months of life-support, medication, meningitis, feeding tubes and surgeries had taken their toll on my weight. “We have had amputees dance before, it won’t be anything like you’re used to, but we might be able to get you back to a club on the dancefloor.”
No, I remember thinking.This is not what dance is to me. It’s really moving, it’s spinning, it’s circles and swirls. It’s jumping so high you might as well be flying.
No, dance is not for me anymore, that has been taken from me and it’s gone. And so, I pushed dance away. I shut down thoughts about it. I moved choreography ideas into a sealed box and silently cried after every dream in which my legs were back and I was dancing.
Until one day, I found Candoco whilst looking for disabled dance classes online and a glimmer of hope re-opened. They were a professional dance company made up of disabled and non-disabled dancers. Their view of the human body in all its differences and its place in dance changed my entire outlook on who is an isn’t a dancer. Suddenly every misconception I’d ever had was challenged.
Anybody can dance, all bodies are valid, all bodies are interesting and worthy and able of expression. How had I missed this?
That was it. I knew I needed to move again, to dance. At first, literally with nobody watching and then, as I got used to my changed body, with others and in front of an audience. Growing up, all I knew about dance really was of one body type with mild variations. Two arms, two legs, mostly slim, mostly average height, standing. But, what is dance really? It’s so much more than set routines or steps. It’s humans revealing, it’s humans interacting, learning, showing and enjoying.
That’s the most important thing for me. I enjoy dance again, and I hope you can too.