“My goal is
just to make
the whole world
~ Ryan Morisette
Part 3: “EVERYONE- the world- is helping me through this. You guys are my strength.”- Yesenia Peralta
I found out about your health condition when your brother sent me an invite to the fundraiser that was put on for you earlier this year. I was shocked. I had no idea you were even suffering through anything, let alone multiple sclerosis. How did the diagnosis come about for you?
In 2007, I had tingling in my arms and my legs. And the tingling got worse. I went to Singapore with my brother, but I wasn’t being very social there, and I wasn’t dancing as much as I used to. I didn’t know why, but I just wasn’t feeling good. When I came back from Singapore, it got worse. It went from my hands to my arms and to my legs. The tingling got so bad that I couldn’t unbuckle my belt, I couldn’t brush my hair, and I couldn’t write the receipts for my students. Eventually, I couldn’t teach!
I had to go to three different hospitals before I got admitted because nobody could figure out what was going on. So I finally get admitted and they released me five days later, without telling me what was wrong, because they said they didn’t know. And because I didn’t have insurance, they couldn’t continue to just keep me there. So they let me go. And then little by little, I got better, so I just thought, “Oh, it’s gone. All right. Back to work!” I opened up another school and didn’t think twice about what had happened.
Then, in 2010, I get this feeling again- tingling, numbness, and all that stuff. And then finally, I got diagnosed in August of that year. But when we finally saw the paperwork from 2007, it said ‘possible Multiple Sclerosis’ on it! 2007! Why couldn’t the doctors have just mentioned that word to me then? But no, they didn’t. And that’s how I found out three years later.
“I saw this posted by one of my idols – Alicia Keys, a strong woman and artist. It spurred some crucial thought for me. The view of dance as a revolution (revolution – a sudden, complete or marked change in something) has always been there, in front of me, but never this concisely.
It made me want to ask – What walls does dance help YOU to break down? Societal, personal, mental or physical. Whatever rings the bell of truth for you, I want to know.”
– Orin McRey
Thank you so much Orin for sending this along and for your thought provoking insights into it. This is amazing.
“Dance- there are so many strengths to it, beyond the superficial, that people don’t know about. I think that dance is such an internal thing. I think it feeds the soul in such a way that it stems from this passion but also from our experiences. And the things that we’ve gone through, the things that we have on our minds, are pushed out and energized into the world through a movement. Sometimes I watch people perform, and you can tell they’ve really BEEN somewhere. And I don’t know where that somewhere is, and I don’t always NEED to know where that somewhere is. But you connect to those people because you can see how much their dancing is driven by something really deep and rich and powerful.”
– Marc Kimelman
“Marc was the assistant choreographer of “Jesus Christ Super Star”…. He loves dance. Not only are his choreographies and his vision incredible, but he’s also a beautiful person. He fought cancer last year and [I believe] he was able to do it because he loves life. That kind of drive… absolutely inspires me.” – Mary Antonini
This was the first introduction I had to the performer and choreographer Marc Kimelman. We hadn’t met in person, but I found it hard NOT to want to get a hold of him after hearing about his talent and accomplishments as an artist, as well as his courage, passion and strength for living. The more I read up on Marc and learned about him, the more curious and excited I was to hear details about his story, from the artist himself. I really appreciated the way Marc responded with such openness, trust and enthusiasm when asked if he would have time to share his thoughts. But what stood out to me the most was that Marc was absolutely correct in describing himself as being ‘as real as possible’, because that’s what I felt throughout the entire interview- that on the other end of that skype call was a genuine, positive spirit, an individual who shares his experiences with a creativity and depth that is truly inspiring.
Besides your obvious talent as a performer and choreographer, I think it’s really inspiring for other young guys to see a guy like you dancing from a very young age. Was it ever an issue for you growing up that you were a boy and liked to dance?
You know, it probably was an issue in terms of maybe people treated me differently, but I really didn’t have any time to think about that because it wasn’t really a choice. It was just ‘I’m going to dance’, and that’s kind of just the way it’s going to be (laughs). I put on shows for my family ever since I was four or five years old. And my dad actually put me into dance because he knew someone at a studio. I tried it and fell in love with it. It definitely got a bit more trying once I got to junior high. But once people actually SAW what I did, people’s views changed. And it became ‘cooler’ (laughs) to dance.
Do you feel that the stigma around boys dancing still exists?
Yes, I think that there still exists a negative stigma towards boys dancing. But there is something about the way the world has changed with the recent popularity of So You Think You Can Dance, and lots of dance-based movies, and shows like All the Right Moves. I think these really open people’s minds towards males dancing and they also prove that it can be a masculine thing as well. Besides, people who have the passion for dance, or anything else, shouldn’t let anything stop them from getting to class. I’m really happy to have started at a young age. And it’s exciting to see how strong and confident the up- and- coming male dancers are.
I think dancing is an amazing art and talent on its own, but I think that choreography also takes a whole other mindset. Are there places you go to, or people or experiences that you look to. for new ideas?
Well, I look to a few different places. Physically, I still love taking class. And I think that’s really important for me because it forces me to move in different ways. When I was sick, I couldn’t dance at all, for at least five months. So I took up Tai Chi because that was something that I could do. It was really low impact, it had me moving, and it became quite meditative for me, and I still do it a couple of times a week, just on my own. And so just seeking out new disciplines, new classes, and new teachers keeps the ideas fresh. And there’s usually something in there that inspires an idea or a thought, or just a different way of moving that I wouldn’t have thought of if I had just been by myself working in a studio.
In terms of creating full pieces, I usually start and end with the text. I’ll look at lyrics for whatever song I’m choreographing. That’s always something that really brings it home for me. And I will write out a piece word for word about what I want it to say. That way, if I ever get lost, or experience a kind of ‘choreographer’s block’, I’ll always go back to the text and remind myself what it is that I’m truly trying to say