Edward Starts to Dance

Edward is a gentleman I’ve come to know over the past couple of months in the Dancing Heart™ program.  Edward is in a wheelchair and is quite advanced in years, yet, he still carries a great amount of wit and sass.  However, I had noticed that when we would dig into our weekly dancing and storytelling, Edward would hold back.  There was generally a wall there, that kept him from moving with us, and opening up his stories – as if he were somewhere else.  I couldn’t see how to bridge the gap that would enable him to be present with us.  Yesterday, we found the bridge.

The group was slowly trickling into the space, as they always do, and Edward was early – sitting there more alert than I remember him being before.  He seemed to be waiting for this moment.  As I approached him, kneeling down by his side to try and make a connection, he started out with his usual line of, “I don’t dance.”  Instead of trying to talk him into it, I simply asked, “why not?”  “Injured in the war,” he replied, motioning to his stone-like feet.  Edward continued on, “He got me, and here, too. (pointing to his eye) But then I got him – for good.  He didn’t go home, no, he never went back to Germany.  I was a crack shot – that’s why they put me on the front line.”

Edward continued to tell of his time in France during World War II, recounting the horror of ending another man’s life.  An event that happened so long ago, yet clearly one that he carried with him daily.  I could feel my heart resonate with Edward’s emerging heart, and I sat just breathing deep, as he shared with me this heavy event.  I felt honored that he trusted it to me, and we sat in silence for a moment.  I touched his hand and left him to put on the big band swing music, that was to begin our session.  As we dove into our Dancing Heart session, Edward was present, he moved to the rhythm, his hands gently rocking back and forth.   He participated in storytelling, sharing his own piece of knowledge and experience with the group.  The bridge had been built and Edward had crossed it making it home to a community of peers who can hold and support his journey.  As we ended our session, I thanked Edward and he replied, “what’s with this Edward business?  You’ll call me Eddie!”

Eddie it is.

– Nancy


The mission of Kairos Dance Theatre is to transform and revitalize individuals and communities. We work with older adults in intergenerational settings to liberate the healing power of interactive dance and story. We achieve our mission by engaging the skills of professional teaching artists.

2 Responses to Edward Starts to Dance

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