This project has been in the making since 2015 and came about when I was six months into a contract with the Slovak National Theatre (SND) as a ballerina after recovering from treatment for breast cancer in 2013.
The film features Petra Conti, an international Prima Ballerina and kidney cancer survivor alongside Fransico Estevez, Colorado Ballet’s principle male dancer who is a two-time cancer survivor of testicular cancer and currently leukemia.
The project was born in concept before going on stage at the Slovak National Theatre dancing “The Waltz” in the Garden of Act Three “La Corsaire,” for Mario Radačovskys (prostate cancer survivor) fundraising gala “Art for Life.” Mario, the creator of the Gala, was a young cancer survivor that went on to become the director of the SND theatre. Serendipity plays its part as I had been told Mario’s story from a ballet master when I was first diagnosed in 2011. I thought how powerful it would be if the audience knew the performers were survivors.
This project has two audiences. The expert dance audience and the general audience that has had a loved one that has had a cancer diagnosis.
The project’s cast have undergone treatment for cancer including surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The difference between the dancers and the general public is that the dancers’ bodies are their lifelines and source of employment. They also know their bodies intrinsically inside out because they work in them seven days a week. These people are less likely to be accepting of treatments that damage their employment vessel.
The aim is to make the audience question what they believe to be true about cancer treatment, patient outcomes and change for the future. To open some questions around the paradox of fit athlete versus health crisis and chronic illness. “You don’t look like you’ve got Cancer” (SO what exactly does a Cancer patient look like?)
Why is cancer still perceived as “predominately an older person’s disease?
We need better sustainable treatment options for the future.
The aim is to inspire but also make the audience wonder how this is possible. It is a story with a happy ending – all dancers are living past diagnosis – yet the future of their health, while it looks beautiful is full of uncertainty.
This project is a vehicle to change the preconceived idea that cancer patients are torpid, in their senior years and low functioning living through diagnosis.
To show elite ballet dancers with Cancer and chronic illness, and how they continue to perform and dance at an international level because of their passion for their art form shows the triumph of the human spirit while promoting diversity in dance. “The Survivors’ Dance.”