Mike Essoundry—esteemed percussionist and composer, and one of the musicians working with Propeller—needed more dancers to accompany The Mash Potato Mashers (his jazz street/marching band) as it lead the parade out from City Hall and wound its way down Elgin Street (one of our major downtown streets) and through Confederation Park to the main stage of the Jazz Festival.
Jess was psyched. “Of COURSE I want to do it!” Dancing, as I noted before, and in public, as I alluded to before, is the way life plays itself out. And so who am I, really, to try to persuade her that it isn’t so, when life’s circumstances and our community keep presenting her with opportunities to dance through life? At first I thought of working on those “independence skills” and getting her to figure out how to get there and take the bus on her own (she’d certainly be able to do it). But then I figured, who would want to miss a parade? As you can see, I am easily sidetracked from some of our goals, but Jessie just knows the most interesting people who invite her to some of the best things going on in the city, so I often find a way to go along for the ride. It may be years before she masters the bus!
Jessie, as you can see, was in her element. MH catapulted her electric chair over curbs and grassy hills and spun and intersected with the other dancers and musicians. At one corner the group stopped and formed a circle and Shara delighted audience and musicians alike with some African dancing, inviting others into the circle.
When it was all over and we were sitting together on the bench waiting for MH’s paratranspo bus, the sousaphone player stopped to talk. “Like a Disney parade!” I said. “Not quite,” he said, “While they are fun, they leave no room for mistakes and so no room for being human.” “I like this kind of parade,” he continued, “it’s much more fun and I feel like I want to dance and march along. I’m not just watching, I’m participating.”
I thought about that on the way home. One, how Jessie has invited me into a community that is so open and full of life and creativity, and two, how Jessie (and her peers) invite others to be full participants in a joyful life. Now that is a great gift!
(Photos and video © 2010 Nancy Huggett and not to be reproduced or shared without consent)
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