Impact was inevitable. The car was turning left in front of us and we had no time to stop. I was riding passenger on the back of the motorcycle I bought myself for my 40th birthday. (A 1982 450 Honda Nighthawk rebuilt and custom painted glitter blue with silver flames!) I did not yet trust myself on busy streets, so I had asked a friend to take me for a ride. It was a gorgeous August day. In spite of the promise I had made to my children to always wear protective gear, I skanked out of the house with no helmet, barelegged in a sundress.
Time has a funny way of being distorted during crises. A moment becomes long enough for a million scrambled thoughts. Pictures floated through my head. My buddy and me mangled on the pavement. My children being told I was injured or dead. It was my son’s birthday. Family and friends were meeting that evening for a celebration. My children’s Dad had died suddenly on Christmas Eve. I knew if I died in a motorcycle accident on my son’s birthday, my children would kill me. As I watched the car turning in front of us, the loudest thought in my head was a simple, resounding declaration, “This will not happen!”
My buddy swerved the bike slightly to the right so that we hit the front of the car at an angle instead of head-on. The front grill of the car was inches away and I saw the very real likelihood of my bare leg being crushed between the car and the bike. But I also saw the hood of the car spread out before me like a field of opportunity.
With one swift, definitive movement, I placed my forearm down on the hood of the car, pushed myself off from the foot peg, tucked my head and rolled. After years of taking classes at the Dance Collective, I could hear my teachers’ voices coaching me to keep my weight moving. Momentum became my dance partner. I yielded and allowed it to propel me across an endless acre of metal.
I rolled by the car’s windshield and saw the driver, a young woman with a horrified look on her face. I rolled through images of friends and family. I rolled over sweet recollections of simple moments. I rolled into the promise of future possibilities. I rolled until I felt nothing underneath me, then I intuitively uncurled and extended. I landed on my feet, standing on the street on the other side of the car.
The driver jumped out of the car. Witnesses gathered. “Are you all right?” everyone asked. I swept my hands down over my body. There was not a bruise or a scratch. I was completely unblemished. My motorcycle was down on its side. My buddy was also standing uninjured (we believe his leg was saved by the crash bar), helmet off, shaking his head. “How did you do that?” he asked.
In moments of crises, one instinctively does what one knows. I have spent hours rolling with Fort Wayne Dance Collective. I have been taught to roll with initiation from my hand, from my foot, from my center. I have rolled over physioballs and bodies. I have rolled across the smooth wood floor of the studio and across the floors of school gymnasiums sticky with who knows what. I have learned to roll effortlessly, rising and falling through high, medium and low levels. In the moments after the motorcycle accident, I stood on the street as witnesses stared incredulously and whispered a reverent thank you to the Dance Collective and the community that supports it.
Since 1990, I have been involved with the Dance Collective as a student, an artist and an audience member. From1992 to 1998, I worked as Development Director educating the community about the benefits of movement education. In 1998, FWDC supported my vision of Fort Wayne Taiko.
Over and over, I have tried to explain how Dance Collective programs do more than teach people to dance–they develop human potential. Fort Wayne Dance Collective provides movement experiences that enhance body awareness, create a more cohesive sense of self and facilitate mind-body integration. Such outcomes are hard to measure. But this one is simple. Fort Wayne Dance Collective taught me to roll. I went over the hood of a car and landed on my feet.
This November as always, I am grateful. I am grateful for my life. I am grateful for my family. I am grateful for my home, health, work, friends and faith. I am grateful for Fort Wayne Taiko. And I am grateful for our mother agency Fort Wayne Dance Collective and all who contribute to her mission.