CONQUESTS IN FRAGILITY
In living with Rheumatoid Arthritis since I was eight years old, the ability to move has not always come naturally to me. Even with my disorder, I pursued my love for ballet dancing for fifteen years and plan to incorporate this experience in my project by collaborating with students from the JMU Dance Program. My project explores the limitations of movement and the fragility of arthritic joints through the performance of dancers in form-fitting glass and metal garment pieces.
My project is centered on my experience with dance and living with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA).
I was diagnosed with JRA in my Sacroiliac Joints when I was eight years old. Due to the location of the disorder in my lower back, I have experienced many difficulties in movement. There have been days when walking, sitting, standing, and even lying down is too painful to bear during arthritic flare-ups in my joints. Even through the pain, I persevered to pursue my love for dance. I studied ballet along with other forms of dance for fifteen years, and faced many limitations in participating with arthritis. Ballet in particular a very controlled art form and I could not always perform certain movements the way they were instructed. To simulate these obstacles with a physical disability, I will be making garment pieces from glass and metal materials for dancers to wear in a performance. The glass material will represent the fragility of arthritic joints and the metallic pieces will symbolize the stiffness that comes with the disorder. I will be making plaster casts from the models participating in the project and then slump glass over the forms to make custom pieces to conform to their bodies. The forms worn by dancers will restrict movement and flexibility, and dancers will have to rearrange their performances as a result. Along with basing my project on my own experiences with a physical disability, I will welcome dancers to share their own limitations in performing to make participation in the project more personal. I hope that this project will result in more awareness for students with disabilities on campus. I hope the disabilities community in Harrisonburg will also receive more support and attention from my project,