Jenni Wren is an established independent UK dance artist, choreographer and artistic director of Slanjayvah Danza. Alongside her artistic roles, Jenni is an educator, diagnostic and injury masseuse, director of KT Tape Dance UK and founder of the Leeds Injury Clinic (for dance).
Sunday, 8 June, 2014
Sunday, 2 March, 2014
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So... I had a show to do.
This 3 night stint of our 1.5 hour long performance programme was taking place in a very popular venue, Central Madrid. It was a great way to kick off our little tour. I took some time to think and got the contract out.
According to the contract, if I cancelled the show, I would have to pay a large sum of Euros. Not an option. I considered having someone come in to learn the 5 pieces of work I was to be performing. The basic fact was there just wasn't the time, money or space and being new to the dance circle in Madrid (as were my colleagues) who the heck were we going to find?
So... I had a show to do. OK, ... S**T! I guess at that point I just went into my automatic mode of "got to do it, will do it, get on with it, no challenge too big", you know, the one you adopt when you are entering an audition you don't feel confident about.
Things are blurry in the lead up to the first shows. I can't remember much about any rehearsals. I remember a good friend of mine brought me a hot water bottle, hoping it would help with the pain.
My back muscles had spasmed, my quad was terribly unhappy and I was constantly massaging my back against a ball, against walls in each place I went - no shame!
There are things you never forget. Wrapping my body together, finding material to do this that didn't make me look bulky or that you could see underneath my costume. I didn't want to give it away, allow anyone to know or even guess that I might in fact be injured. No, that's not what happens, that's not what an audience will come to see, that's not what a venue want to know.
I was waiting to go on stage, there was no interval but I knew I had 2 respite points where I would get a breather within the programme. I felt sick and I started panicking, sweating and I was afraid. We hadn't had time to change the material, all the dynamics, quick changes, contact material remained etc. Lights down, black out. S**T! It was happening.
Whilst everyone was celebrating the response to our work, I was quietly re-wrapping my body and seemed very much to be the odd one out. To be honest, I didn't even feel like I was in my body anymore. Did I enjoy it the show? I can't even remember dancing really - though I knew my adrenaline had kicked in and that I had achieved what I set out to do - complete the show without deviating from the material or letting my injury be seen.
Now however, my entire concentration was on an internal level of fear, pain, discomfort and determination. I felt nothing else. Apparently I looked amazing on stage. That's nice, I thought.
The day after the performance - the moment when you realise you can't remember being run over by a bus but you feel as if you have been. Yep.
I'm not sure what I switched on or what I switched off inside me but I got up, wrapped my body and did my next performance and then did it again the following evening. I kept a brave face and got on with it. I got better at wrapping up my hip to my abdomen, almost like a nappy brace type thing.
I massaged my entire body every night and every night I sobbed my heart out. I had a horrible feeling I'd be wrapping myself up for a long time, certainly the rest of the tour anyway. I completed the tour.
I often think I'm Super Woman, even now, no challenge too big. I had to admit I was defeated. I took 6 months out. I thought it was the best thing to do. I went back to the UK naively assuming I would get help with this, particularly after my experience with the previously mentioned grinning Cheshire in the hospital in Spain. At least I knew I would be able to communicate 100% clearly and be understood in my own language without question or doubt.
Ha - good joke! The 9 years that followed were a series of incomprehensible disastrous consultations that led to zero diagnosis. Hang on, not to mention the 5 ultrasounds, an internal camera investigation and a CT scan all proving negative! Apparently I wasn't injured at all!
To be continued...