perspectives - AUGUST 2018
how the ACL injury made me a better dancer / dance teacher
CONTRIBUTOR: CASSIE BROWN - PROFESSIONAL DANCER & ACTRESS
Cassie Brown represents a large entertainment company in Australia, where she joins them on live tours and acts as a host to hundreds/thousands of people in theatres.
"Although I’m only 4 months out of ACL surgery, I can already tell that I’m going to come back very different and mature having gone through such a difficult, yet eye-opening journey.
I’m really appreciating every new movement that I’m able to do when I’m in dance rehab (things that I could do in my sleep before). I’m moving with purpose and meaning. I don’t want to say I was naive before the injury - but that’s the best way to put it. Sometimes you take what you do for granted and it can become monotonous. I remember one of my teachers always saying “dancers are so much better once they’ve had life experience and they dance with meaning”. I now get that. I can’t say exactly what changes inside once you’ve gone through ‘life’ experiences but it truly does come out when you dance. I guess dance is our way to show our scars, life stories and raw emotions - if you haven’t gone through hardship (positive experiences count, too) then what are you expressing?
In terms of dance teaching, I am a very demonstrative person. I’m a perfectionist - so I need to see what I envision in my mind and I find that by showing my students what I want they understand it so much more. As I can’t demonstrate at the moment I’ve had to rely on my dance vocabulary, analogies and imagery! It can be very difficult (maybe sitting still is harder) but I also enjoy the challenge. I always make sure that before my classes I’ve got everything prepared and have certain phrases that I know the kids will instantly understand. I relate a movement to something that they can relate too and is relevant for their age group. For example - we’re going to walk and melt like the floor is hot lava. Or, our bodies are cars - hips are headlights and shoulder to hips are seatbelts and we are travelling forward no swerving!
I definitely appreciate my art form a whole lot more. I did what I consider one of the easiest jumps and ruptured my ACL. To the everyday person it really isn’t a normal jump. I remember as I was sitting on the floor thinking “out of all the hard stuff I do and put my body through everyday I did it in this!” I was quite angry and a little embarrassed to say the least. Then I thought about it later - it does not matter if I was doing the hardest jump ever known to a dancer or even walking to my class. Our bodies are not immune and it’s a miracle that we can put them through so much and they can withstand that (usually). I was one of the unfortunate people whose knee just twisted a degree more valgus on landing and there’s nothing more to it. It made me realise how lucky I am to have a healthy body and that I can do what I love everyday. I appreciate everything so much more and have vowed to look after my body and mind so much more!"