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Dancing through the Pain

A Brief Introduction

For anyone who has met Marika, it would not occur to you for a minute that she is in constant pain. She is bright-eyed, enthusiastic, warm and engaging. She makes you feel like you are the most important person in the room. The story of her past 7 years is one of incredible resolve - physical, mental and emotional. Here, Marika shares some of her story, telling us what it has been like to return to the world of dance with her constant companion.

Thank you Marika, we look forward to hearing more as your journey continues.

Love, Nadia

"Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness."

Desmond Tutu

Dance has Returned to my Life Although This Time with Chronic Pain

Something pretty amazing happened on December 15th, 2016. Dance returned to my life. It was absent for close to 7 years due to a workplace injury (non-dance related job) on March 17th, 2010. My body went through trauma at the time of the injury which had left me with neuropathic pain. I remember thinking on the Thursday it took place that I’d be back at work on the Monday. Little did I know that almost 7 years later I’d still be living with chronic pain.

When my injury took place I wasn’t able to walk more than 10 metres due to the severity of the pain. I went two years without knowing what was wrong with me. Two years after my injury I met my chronic pain specialist who has been a gem in my life. Both he and my GP are outstanding and have guided and supported my decisions.

When I first met my Chronic Pain specialist he explained to me what was going on in my body, he also told me that I wouldn’t be able to dance again to which I broke down as dance was my everything. Started at the age of 3 and never looked back. He later asked me to return with my husband as it was all too much to take in. This time he mentioned that dance could/would return in my life however not like it had in my past.

I was literally born into the dance world as my parents have a Ukrainian Dance Company, 50 years this year! I performed throughout Canada, United States and Japan and competed. I received my honours degree in Dance from York University in Toronto. I choreographed and taught in studios, primary/secondary schools, university, dance camps and ran workshops. I ate, breathed and slept dance. In 2005 I decided to travel to Australia to obtain my Diploma in Education as I wanted to teach dance in the school system here.

Everything though changed March 17th, 2010 and my life stopped when I was injured working in a classroom. My passion had left my heart due to the incredibly intense pain levels. I didn’t know what to do with myself and was lost. I fell into depression and refused to talk about dance in my therapy sessions. I remember telling one of my therapists that ‘dance’ was placed in a treasure chest, chained and locked up at the bottom of the ocean for no one to find…….but me. Perhaps there was a reason I didn’t want to talk about dance. I would cry if I spoke about dance, struggled watching dance videos and the 2 dance performances I did attend I cried, turned my head to look at the ground with the occasional glance. My husband’s 40th I was incredibly excited to watch the German dancers perform however as soon as they came out I was flooded with emotion and abruptly walked out.

I was having trouble accepting my chronic pain. I hated that I could only work part time and that too much of anything flared my back. My husband and I decided to move to Yarra Glen end of 2015. We decided to move to the country for a slower and more relaxed life. It was here, and in the last couple months that I accepted my chronic illness.

December 15th, 2016 I saw an advertisement pop on Facebook for the Yarra Valley School of Ballet. I checked out their website and was very impressed. The Principal of the school was very well trained and we had similar training. What was even more amazing was that the school was a 5 minute walk from my house…….if this wasn’t fate telling me ‘Dance’ was knocking on my door saying you’re ready I don’t know what it was.

I emailed Nadia and told her about my background and about my chronic pain. She responded with a beautiful message and shared with me something she wrote when she was just 8 years old which was “ You must always dance, somehow, someway, because it is what you are meant to do.” Wow….Wow I thought. I have to teach dance again. It was like the last 7 years closed up. That book was over and a new book opened.

We met and it felt like the 2 of us had known each other for years and we connected straight away. We share the same views on running a school, how we teach students and both wanted the studio to have strong ties amongst the community.

I decided to start with 2 ballet lessons. Leading up I was very excited. It was strange as during these last 7 years I would cry when dance was brought up however something was different this time. My first class I was pretty nervous although it felt great. My second class I was home. It all felt perfect and meant to be. I was sore however that’s to be expected. I’m learning how to teach with chronic pain.

I’m so incredibly happy to have returned to teaching dance. I dislike that my chronic pain exists however this is the way things are….. right now. I hope one day that it will disappear. Until then dance is back and that’s pretty amazing.

I’ll share more of my journey and teaching with chronic pain in the near future.

Marika Silwedel

8th February 2017

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