I remember when I started to dance … I was probably around 5 or so. My father’s friend’s daughter Sanae—who would became my teacher for 17 years—was looking for ballet students …
Injury and Dance
Guki! — the strange sound happened inside of my knee. The first time I heard this sound was 30 years ago in Tokyo. I was in a hurry one day, leaving my job to go to rehearsal and I didn’t warm up. I rushed into dance rehearsal and tried to do a dance movement that went from the fourth position to an altitude turn and when I landed back on the fourth position I heard the strange sound, the “Guki.” I immediately knew something was wrong but at the time pain was manageable so I continued to dance during the rehearsal. At the night, my knee swelled and it was hard to move. That was the beginning of my journey with knee pain.
So at that time I damaged my right knee ligament. This injury wasn’t well known and there was no method to treat it such as orthopedic surgery. Japan was more accustomed to treating this by acupuncture. I believe in acupuncture so I was doing it every week to keep out the pain, while icing my knee. All the while I continued to dance. At the time my father said, “Just rest a couple month until it heals. Life is long, a few month is nothing.” I should have listened, right? It is really true. But I was those one of “dance nuts”, “CAN NOT MISS CLASS, CAN NOT MISS REHEARSALS.” Not dancing wasn’t in my mind at all. So I was limping and dancing for probably about 2 years. CRAZY.
– Takami Craddock
Then I decided to go to New York to study more dance. When I arrived New York City it was the middle of winter and cold. I was taking classes everyday, running around in the snow, then of course my knee started to hurt. I could not even bend my knee and sitting in one position was so painful. It was so painful I couldn’t even go to see a movie.
At the time my boyfriend who I just met in New York City (now he is my husband for 26 years) helped me look for a orthopedic doctor, who told me that if I wanted to dance I have to have surgery because I had damaged the cartilage.
So I had surgery a year later on my left knee. Afterwards, while I was healing, I relied on my right knee and then I thought my body is not right for dance. I thought I should give up dancing. And I did, for about 2 years. Since I was getting married and moving to NYC I was able to occupy my time getting ready for these big changes in my life.
In NYC, for the first time in my life I had a office job. It was the 1980s so the Japanese economy was really good so people like me never worked at an office in Japan. We didn’t need to. In NYC I got a good office job with a famous corporation. It was sensational to me because I had my own desk, typewriter (there were no computers yet), and a name card with the corporation name on it. One good thing about all this was I got paid every 2 weeks just doing what people told me to do from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. I was able to buy nice things with my own earnings. But it was so boring. I was falling asleep at 3 pm every day and looked forward to Friday night. I thought “wow”, a lot of people are going though this. I finally understood why my Japanese girlfriends wanted to get married and get out from the office job.
About a year or so after starting that office job my husband suddenly said to me, “You are not the same person I married.” It was shocking. My soul was dying because I wasn’t dancing. Even with no money I was always busy and dreaming about being a beautiful dancer and I wrote this down on the paper and put it in front of my office desk. I had a goal. I had purpose to live. Thanks to my husband, little by little, I was going back to dancing again in NYC. During this time I realized how much I needed to dance and loved to dance. I am so glad that I actually did get injured and worked at the office job because I was able to find me again and the joy that dancing gave me. At the dance studio people always wondered why I was so happy and friendly. Usually NYC dancers are so competitive and unfriendly. But to me, I was just so happy that I could jump and turn again. It felt so good to be back in dance classes. My knee was completely healed.
Then just last year, I heard that bad sound again inside of my knee. Oh no, I was in pain again. After several months trying to figure it out, I finally had surgery for the third time. This time I tore my left knee (medical meniscus). I just had surgery in December 2015. Now again only 2 month later. I should have waited to heal longer but I had to go back to teaching. This time my situation was a little bit different than 30 years ago. Now I have my program and studio. I hear my dad’s voice … a few months is not a long time … rest Takami. But this time I am not only a dance nut, but a teaching nut. I could not leave my students for that long. I have a huge production, etc. So I rested about 3 weeks and went back to teaching with the help of a TA.
This time while I had surgery I learned why I was getting injured. I wasn’t using some part of my body the right way. This is good to know so that I can teach young dancers what not to do. I am now learning with a dance physical therapist.
That first time I had surgery I rediscovered my joy of dancing. I became a student of the sprit of dance. This time my injury is teaching me a different prospect of my body. This time I became a student of my body.
I am so glad that I’m still able to dance.
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Upcoming Events at MoBu Dance Studio
Creative Dance Show (Students’ Choreography)
Creative Dance Show
Date April 23rd, 2017
DancEsteem 2017 Spring Show!
DancEsteem 20th anniversary Performance
May 6 & 7, 2017 at Fort Mason Cowell Theater