Growing up, I was an artist, always drawing. It was my escape into a world full of color and light, using my brain in a creative way no matter where I was. But I always looked up to performers like Tina Turner, Madonna and Michael Jackson, and I loved playing around with cousins and performing. I remember my aunt once catching us pretending we were in a band (I was one of the leads, of course).
“YOU HAVE TO STOP DANCING!” These are the words no professional dancer ever wants to hear. But this happened to me.
Hi, My is Lloyd Knight and I am a soloist for the Martha Graham Dance Company. I’ve been dancing for MGDC since 2005. Since I was a little boy the only thing I wanted to do was be on a stage, I didn’t know what I would be doing, but dance called my name. I fell in love with it from the very start. I’ve worked hard to get where I am, but was stopped due to a back injury, a herniated disc in my lower back.
I am very saddened by this, but working very hard to finding a way back to the stage!
I think what hit me first was the feeling of being lost. I was going to physical therapy, but for the rest of the day I had nothing to do but try to make up activities. But then I decided to do something I’ve always wanted to do, which is research arts administration. So I applied for an arts administration internship to the School of American Ballet. I love New York City Ballet, so it was a dream to learn that I would be working in their school. I’ve loved every minute of it. It’s been five months and I’ve learned a great amount. This has kept my brain working and made me think more of what it is I would like to do in the future.
Now for the injury: The recovery been an ongoing process. I’ve been learning more and more that a disc herniation takes a while to heal. I’m still finding new ways of dealing with it. But it’s been a mission, finding the right doctors whose answer to everything isn’t surgery, finding the physical therapist that is right for my body, and dealing with the emotional and physical withdrawal that the mind and body goes though when suddenly not being able to dance. I often find myself waking up thinking I should go to dance class but remember that I cannot because of my injury. I found that group meetings at the Actor’s Fund were great for talking and being with people going though injuries. Bebe Neuwirth runs the institution. The Actor’s Fund group meetings have helped to calm me down and know that I am not alone. They also help provide housing if you need and have workshops, just as “Getting and Keeping Health Insurance.”
I’m still learning of the in’s and out’s of getting though a injury but wish I would have known all I know now from the very beginning. Like how to go about workers comp right away, or even what foods I should eat that can help your body in a time of need. I would say to anyone out there with an injury that has stopped you from dancing: Do your research and get as many opinions as you can and don’t let one doctor’s scary tone of voice force you into a decision you could regret. Also, try to do something that still work’s your brain and your artistic being.
I’ve been finding that although I can’t do what I love right now, I am still the same person inside and out. This injury has taught me many things about myself, things I love, my insecurity’s and how strong of a person I am and can become. Surround yourself with loved ones and keep your eye on the prize. See you on the stage!
Shimon and Tammar Photography, Courtesy Lloyd Knight