Martha Carter lost her spirit of dance inside the scar along her spine.
Doctors cut her open, fused her spine, and inserted metal rods and bolts to correct the curvature when she was a teenager. After the surgery the doctors told her she was fine, but she wasn’t.
Endowed with a dancer’s passion she pursued the art form, despite her body’s limitations.
Every day she was surrounded by top-notch professionals and was aware she couldn’t dance like them. Her difficulties were invisible to outside observers. Her dance psyche continued to ebb away. She tried to hide her scoliosis, denied to deal with it, but that path led her to abandon dancing in the spotlight.
“I lost track of the spirit,” said Carter. “I stopped dancing over the years. I couldn’t handle the difficulties my back presented.”
But her passion for the art form never died. She took another path and delved into choreography and production. For 21 years she pursued this avenue and then one day she woke up and said ‘no more’. She found a surgeon to remove the rods.
“My body was in rough shape,” she said.
As part of her rehabilitation she started dancing again. She always knew she wanted to tell her story of the struggles she faced and always thought she would write a book, but it soon evolved into a dance piece.
“It’s a personal story that traces my struggle over the years, the juxtaposition of me wanting to be a dancer even though I had a crooked spine,” said Carter. “I had to come out of my scoliosis closet, having done that I was able to free my authentic dancer.”
It took Carter time to uncover the story she wanted to tell. At first she presented the piece with four other dancers, which represented her alter egos. The piece evolved into Twisted: Solo, which shows at Nanaimo’s Malaspina Theatre Saturday (May 11) at 7:30 p.m.
“It’s a universal story of transformation and getting over obstacles,” said Carter.
She began to realize that dance can come from all types of bodies.
“You can dance any way you want, express yourself physically in the way your body allows you to,” said Carter.
People with scoliosis began to approach Carter and discuss their experiences with the disease. It led her to create the Twisted Outreach Project for Backcare and Scoliosis, where she offers classes, workshops and other outreach activities.
“It’s nice to think our artwork can be relevant in such a direct way,” said Carter.
Meridian, a multimedia performance created by Vancouver Island University faculty and artists, is also being performed during the evening.
Tickets are $20/ $18 members/ $12 students and are available from Lobelia’s Lair, House of Indigo, Arbutus Music or online at www.crimsoncoastdance.org.