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> > > Janice Parker Projects presents Glory
an abstract sepia image with the word GLORY whited-out across it

Photo © Brian Hartley

Glory sees the return of Janice Parker and Richard Layzell encouraging men, women and children of all ages and abilities and from all walks of life, to collaborate to create a large-scale immersive dance event that celebrates the city’s rich Commonwealth community and Glasgow 2014. Glory runs at the Tramway from 5-10 March 2014. Kim Simpson gives an account of taking part.

At this moment of pause, before we go from our rehearsals in smaller groups to rehearsing as one huge ensemble in Tramway, I have been reflecting on this journey so far. I use the word journey because its one that Janice uses! In my time working on Glory I have had a couple of conversations with Janice about what support (if any) I might need… we talked about the journey that I am on, which is bigger than this project, but she also highlighted that everyone here is on a journey of their own.

So what has my journey been then? Well the first 5 rehearsals of Glory were, for me, completely excruciating!! I was WELL out of my comfort zone, declaring my disability through the use of a chair from rehearsal 2 onwards (rehearsal 1 I did completely unsupported and then completely regretted it two days after!) and actually MOVING in front of people… in this body that I have battled with for so long. It was tough.

My partner asked me after about rehearsal 4 if I was enjoying the project. To be honest, at that stage I really wasn't. But I wanted to confront that feeling and get past it. I wanted to push myself to learn to control my energy levels, my actual physical presence, to challenge my acute self awareness and self consciousness all of these things.

With the added complication (or benefit) of the physio I am doing at the moment, all Janice's instructions have had to work alongside my internal instructions to myself; make sure your transversal abdominus is working, point your knees to the front, pull from the muscles you've been working, don't extend too far…. It’s been hard work trying to remember it all.

I've also had to negotiate my way through this process while missing rehearsals. There were a couple that I just KNEW if I went to I would be prolonging my tiredness, or worse, resulting in a proper flare up. So I cancelled. I quietly worked through in my head all the reasons why it was the right choice for me AND the project not to go and then gave myself a break (as opposed to quietly scolding myself for being 'lazy', 'weak', 'rubbish' - OK, maybe there was a bit of that but it went quickly). This process is something I attribute to my amazing experience of CBT last year.

Then, on Saturday, I realised that I arrived at the rehearsal in a good mood. I felt positive and outgoing. My shyness had lifted (not completely, but noticeably!) and despite the missed rehearsals I TRUSTED myself to remember what I had learned, and trusted my fellow performers to know what to do. I still had lots to remember on top of the moves, I still have to constantly consider the effect something will have on me beyond the rehearsal, I still feel pain and exhaustion as a result of this project BUT its improving. The pain becomes easier to manage, the exhaustion lessens as my tolerance increases.

Ultimately, I have forged my own way through this with highly appropriate support from Janice and Nadia. I say highly appropriate because in fact, their input has been very light and considered. I would have hated to draw even more attention to myself by having an entourage of people helping me figure out how to move well, but they spoke up at the right time and let me and my chair get on with it the rest of the time.

I suppose an indication of how far I have come is that, up until Saturday, I was still hoping that the occasional performance might work for me WITHOUT a chair. My plan was to turn up on the night and check in with myself (I meditate to check how my body and brain are feeling - more on that another time) and then decide to ditch the chair if I felt I didn't need it… Sounds like a good plan, eh? Well I realised that in fact, admitting to the need to pace myself is a huge step forward. At the moment I DO need the chair. Sure I could do the first two performances without it. Maybe even three. But then I would be wiped at the end of the week.

The second point about this is that I wanted to SAY something about hidden disability. If I were to forego my chair, how would anyone know there was an issue? A while back I wouldn't have wanted to invite those kinds of questions but now? I'm almost ready…

For more information about Glory please click on this link to go to the Tramway website.