Today, October 19th is the 13th anniversary of my daughter’s death. Michelle was a dancer and performer from the age of 5 – and to her dancing was what brought meaning to her life.
When she was 11 years old, Michelle wrote, "To me, dance is everything. It is my air to breathe, my will to live, and the water to quench the thirst in my soul to express myself. When I am dancing, my life is in order; without dance and my ability to free my feelings, my world is chaotic and confused."
Using Michelle’s words, we were inspired to provide this feeling of release to other young women who need an outlet to expresses themselves for situations in which language could not give meaning to the depth of their feelings.
Thanks to all of you who have supported Dance to Live throughout the years. We are working hard to provide movement as a healthy and effective method for an adolescent to transcend the challenges of the moment and work toward emotional and physical wellbeing.
It's hard to imagine that another year has almost gone by and we will be starting our 8th year at Nexus Recovery Center - a residential treatment center where adolescent women receive treatment for drug addiction while their children reside with them at the center. The women and children attend school plus counseling sessions, both individual and group.
Added to this mixture of treatment, Dance to Live offers classes in Yoga and therapeutic dance, both to the mothers and their children – who are as much victims of their mother’s drug addiction as the mothers themselves.
Some of these young women have had lives so confusing that it is difficult for them to express what they are feeling. Movement transcends all languages and allows the women to express themselves in ways that otherwise they would not. Dance to Live works on trust and supportive relationships– such as pairing individuals in Yoga moves where success is dependent on both parties.
The first time I attended one of the Nexus classes was near Thanksgiving 7 years ago. Our dance therapist, Lynn, asked the girls to express what they were grateful for. I was truly surprised to realize that these young women, suffering from severe drug addiction, felt “loved” by their families- that they realized others in their lives cared very deeply for them. I honestly thought that they would be disenfranchised from their families – but that wasn’t the case.
Perhaps because Nexus exists to work with adolescent females, particularly girls with children, they are not yet hardened addicts. However, on the same day of my first visit the girls had just received the news that 2 of their friends who had recently been released, overdosed and died on cheese heroine on the same weekend they left Nexus. The girls in class were struggling with grief and the realization that they were not so different from their deceased friends.
We hope that accomplishments earned in the Dance To Live classes prepare these young women to succeed in other challenges. If one can master a difficult Yoga pose, the balance required for that transcends into other aspects of their lives. Exercise, expression, music, motion, release from daily struggles in a healthful setting – all these are tools for their future survival. Thank you for giving these young women a fighting chance.
PS. I'm sure you understand that photos do not accompany this report and the women and their children are minors.
Susan Parma, President