By June Kinoshita
When I attended the Los Angeles Ghostly Gala last week, I met an extraordinary woman, Donna Russo, an actress and dancer with FSH muscular dystrophy. Donna told me of her life-long love of dance, and how FSHD had gradually limited her muscle movement, flexibility and range of motion. She shared with me her dream, to keep finding ways to express herself through movement, and to tell her story, and the stories of other disabled dancers, through a documentary film.
Not long ago, Donna met and began to collaborate with Tam Warner, an industry leading choreographer, who has a different disablity, a “hidden” one that is not evident to an outside observer. She has life-threatening coronary artery disease, exacerbated by a rare inflammatory illness.
A Passion for Dance is a documentary film that tells the story of Donna, Tam and a unique group of dancers who share in the joy and passion of movement and who resolve to never give up. The cast will be made up of both able-bodied dancers and dancers with disabilities, some of which may be “hidden.” The film will take viewers on a Journey through the audition and rehearsal process ending in a final performance of a newly created dance piece.
“I hope to bring awareness to FSHD and help people understand what a challenge it is to continually lose muscle strength and live day to day with FSHD,” said Donna.
“I have been a dancer for most of my life,” Donna explained. “It is very difficult to have a passion that gets harder and harder to satisfy. I feel, though, that I can still express myself through dance. This documentary is important. It will make it clear that people with disabilities can still contribute, create and follow their passion and in so doing inspire others.”
Donna and her collaborators are currently raising funds needed to make this documentary. You can learn more by visiting the project’s web site www.apassionfordance.com.