“Corticosteroids every day for the rest of your life”.
They said it was extremely dangerous for me not to take them.
They said I could die.
They said I would not get fat.
They said I could continue dancing.
They said I must stop dancing.
My body was no longer available.
It stopped having energy.
I gained 20 kilograms.
Many said: “There are no obese dancers”.
That was my death.
It took me years to be able to ask myself, What authorizes a doctor (a mortal being, like any other) to deny a person the possibility of dancing? What experience of his body could this "God" have if he has never danced?
I will not be able to answer that but I can tell you what makes me a part in the authorization of his outer knowledge about my body:
The fear of death.
What are we talking about when we talk about science? What are we talking about when we talk about cure in a treatment? Traditional medical knowledge has become an hegemonic way of life that has its roots in a moral state of mind that hides under the name of “scientificity proven”.
With the "will" of preserving my life, they locked me into a treatment that only got me further away from it. It got me “off” from the spaces where my life took place and the people with whom I share the world. One day in my psychoanalysis session, I was talking about the dangers of not taking corticosteroids every day as the doctors ordered. I realized that to me, it was far more dangerous not being able or allowed to dance. And if that was the case, I'd rather live with the risk of dying. What does a dancer do when he/she/they cannot dance anymore?
Hamlet's question is not an issue for me. There is no hesitation. As Liliana Felipe says “at least we have earned the right to decide how we want to die”.
We usually hear some statements that are "scientifically proven". They work such as the iron mark on the asses of cows. In psychology, some papers are completely manipulated. As if science was not made by humans. Papers "prove it." What they do not tell you is that most of the time, the representative sample is only three hundred people, who are generally w.a.s.p (Protestants, whites, Anglo-Saxons) or if they are not, they will belong to the "ethnic group" to which they want to attach some label. They are specifically chosen to support the hypothesis of the study. Needless to say, there is no research, no meeting with the unknown, A hypothesis is raised to be corroborated by means of methods that imply the problem and its response. The way questions are selected and managed are strategically planned to get expected answers. We should always remember that correlativity is not the cause of something and that causes are in many times profoundly singular. Given these scientific ways of working with piques, statements will have nothing to do with the psychological reality of the “subject” but more with that of the researcher who makes the questions and suggest 4 or 5 answers from which you will have to chose one even when you feel no one suits you right. This is no different of a Cosmo quiz. Yes, scientist, doctors and psychologists are not celestial beings and have an unconscious mind too. Yes, science is made by humans, It may sound shocking! Sometimes, some of these beings do not realize of our great limitation. A body experience is non-transferable. At least not completely.
There are psychological mechanisms that make us believe that our body is something different from our mind, that "language" could be clear and distinct, telling the whole truth about a matter, leaving no room for interpretation. These mechanisms, among other things, are responsible for making us believe in objectivity.
Assuming there are things that we do not know, that there is something of "the other" and of oneself that will always remain inaccessible to us, things that will remain forever unsolved, could make some people feel so impotent that they would do anything just to deny it, to prove themselves right.
Jacques Lacan said in the XXIII seminar:
"The parlêtre adores (his/her/their) body because (he/she/they) thinks (he/she/they) have it. Actually, (he/she/they) doesn't have it, but his body is his only consistency ‒ mental consistency of course because the body constantly goes on camping somewhere else"
I think we are born with what we may call a body, an organic one. But What do we mean when we talk about the body? Perhaps unnameable, perhaps irreducible to a universal definition. Our bodies are also made of unique and singular experiences, that can easily be shuttered by ideal images or moral scientific statements.
How many bodies do we have during our lifetime? How many bodies do we lose in the way?
No one escapes from being a corpse …
Please, do not misunderstand me, I am not trying to deny advances in science, much less refuse whatever can help us to get out of an illness.
How successful could be a healing practice that, in order to cure, strips subjects of their spaces of identity and pleasure? And even worse from his/her own listening and speaking about their "symptoms".
A recurring criticism of Freud's work is that psychoanalysis is not a science but, What remains of us, as singular humans beings, when for doctors our bodies, our particular experiences and sense of it are only subordinated to their "objective" scientific knowledge?
When I tell the doctors that I am a dancer, they do not believe me because of something that becomes obvious to them, for them I am "Obese". This "Obesity" has its roots in a misdiagnose made by two renowned doctor and the practices that have been imparted to my body. Practices I have respected submissively for 3 years.
From my experiences with other dancers with whom I still share dancing, I feel and think that being fat will and should not be an obstacle for continuing this dancing career I have had since my childhood. I have always received recognition for my technique, teaching and creative work, be That as it may, I understand the shock, that has not been sorted in me either.
A time ago, I met a colleague that I haven't seen since my teen years. Now he is a renown choreographer in my country. When he saw me, all he could see was my fatness. He said to me "I guess you don't dance anymore, right?" In a rather unique tone. When I told him I was working on improvisation and spontaneous dance, he replied: "Ohh yes, that's fine for you!"
This scene shows a mixture between my personal history, my subjective position, which has been conveniently woven with this villain on duty and the social representations of "fatness" obstructing the idea that all bodies can dance and promoting that some dances are more valuable than others,
This blend recalls what I have learned during my childhood and adolescence: classical and modern techniques have microphysics that produces subjective effects.
I am not responsible for "my obesity " but I am responsible for my present and the decisions I can make in a field that I consider my home, my history, my body, which is dancing.
It is true that I have not always been "obese" and that I hope this is just a passage through the disease that I am going through or went through or God knows what.
This pushes me towards the next question:
if there really is an inclusion of diversity of bodies in dance, why do I want to be slim again?
Experiencing our bodies is a matter of interpretation. It is not an ode to the ego but rather a path for bonding. That bond, which only can be built-in dialogue with others, the same one that also creates our bodies. That social and personal bond by which we can assure ourselves in sensations, which medicine and certain dance ideals insist on denying. Dancing is an experience that forces us to get in touch with our actual bodies, which will never be "the body" of medicine. However, our bodies can reveal to us information about our anatomy and functioning at the level of its organic singularities.
What is our responsibility as dancers? In which sense could we connect with something that allows us to take responsibility for our symptoms when we dance?
Listening to our dancing as it is, not as it should be, without evaluations, is a path towards responsibility, that, in the best of cases, enables decisions and desire.
It is not my aim making dance a panacea of benefits and inclusion, nor is it downplaying the importance of actions that allow us to listen to our bodies in all its senses and varieties. Our bodies are always a particular experience for us. This experience will be only possible to “read” backwards in our own journeys.
The work we do when we dance goes beyond the anatomical but it does not underestimate it. We don't build mountains with a sensation. We are oriented to listen to what comes from our anatomy, associate it, interrogate it, disarm it, find strategies to dance with it. Knowing that we won’t ever bring up to light everything about it, neither that is necessary. This is a technical question. This listening in movement allows us to register moments in which our bodies show us "a symptom" (always singular one), by discovering our subjectivity, perceiving minimal differences, we get data that could be a compass for our expedition and that doctors will never see or reluctantly hear.
Without a doubt, completely being healed may not be possible
it is already complex.
Healing not always is through medication.
Healing is not to eliminate the symptom.
Healing is with others
Healing is knowing how to deal with something.
Maybe impossible ...
We may never know it
So, we better dance!
Picture: Enrique Simonet - So she had a heart! (1890)