This Powerful Video Shows What It's Like to Dance with Cerebral Palsy
When Jerron Herman was diagnosed with hemiplegia cerebral palsy, the doctors told him that he would likely need help doing everyday tasks like eating and getting dressed.
Today, Herman is six years into his professional dance career. He currently performs with Heidi Latsky Dance, an integrated company that includes dancers with a range of physical abilities. He also serves as the youngest member of The New York Dance & Performance Awards (or Bessies) selection committee.
This video created by Great Big Story shows how Herman's disability enriches his movement quality, adding a layer of texture and nuance that's captivating to watch. "The things that were perceived as negative are now enfolded into the choreography," says Herman. But that doesn't mean he can't perform codified steps, too: "I've been told my arabesque is crazy!" he says.
Herman balances virtuosity and control, subtlety and complexity when executing Latsky's choreography—and watching him rehearse next to his colleagues is a powerful demonstration of how different dancers with different abilities can bring new dimension to the same phrase.
The dance world is still incredibly restrictive for disabled performers. But dancers like Herman show that it's not only possible to dance with a disability—but that disability can inform movement in invaluable ways. "I've always been an advocate for those who pursue the antithesis of their limitation," he says.
Watch more of Herman in Heidi Latsky's On Display, a movement installation focusing on diversity and visibility:
It's a cycle familiar to many: First, a striking image of a lithe, impossibly fit dancer executing a gravity-defying développé catches your eye on Instagram. You pause your scrolling to marvel, over and over again, at her textbook physique.
Inevitably, you take a moment to consider your own body, in comparison. Doubt and negative self-talk first creep, and then flood, in. "I'll never look like that," the voice inside your head whispers. You continue scrolling, but the image has done its dirty work—a gnawing sensation has taken hold, continually reminding you that your own body is inferior, less-than, unworthy.
It's no stretch to say that social media has a huge effect on body image. For dancers—most of whom already have a laser-focus on their appearance—the images they see on Instagram can seem to exacerbate ever-present issues. "Social media is just another trigger," says Nadine Kaslow, a psychologist who works with the dancers of Atlanta Ballet. "And dancers don't need another trigger." In the age of Photoshop and filters, how can dancers keep body dysmorphia at bay?
If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.
Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.
Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.
So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?
When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.