From aerobic dance to ballet, ballroom, hip-hop, tango, tribal and Zumba, dance has been an important part of ceremony, rituals, celebrations and socialization going back to prehistoric times. Archeology traces dance from as early as the 9,000 year old Bhimbetka rock shelters paintings in India and Egyptian tomb paintings depicting dancing figures from c. 3300 BC.Dance is a natural rythmic movement of joy.
Dance can be a great motovation to move and be active - in other words - to exercise. It is something that can be done on the most basic level of moving to the rhythym of a favorite tune. It can be as complex as clasical ballet or Argentine tango. One of the stories in The Sisterhood of Diabetes book is from Zippora Karz.
That essence, that leaps within the dancer, was in Zippora’s gene pool. Her grandmother Gloria performed a solo act in Vaudeville and danced throughout her life. Her mother Ellen had studied modern dance at Juilliard and continued to dance traditional folk dances throughout her life. Zippora and her sisters often accompanied their mother to folk dance camps where they would all dance together. On occasion their grandmother would choreograph a piece for all three generations to dance together.
By the age of eighteen Zippora was a full member of the prestigious company and at twenty-seven she had worked her way to reach the dream of every ballerina, that of becoming a soloist. This position came with the creative and artistic opportunity to dance the ballets of George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins of the New York City Ballet. Zippora would dance the role of the Sugarplum Fairy in The Nutcracker, a Muse in Balanchine’s Apollo and other select roles. The life of a professional ballerina is toiling, sweaty, arduous, joyful, passionate and intense but Zippora Karz was born to dance.
Although the rigors of professional dance are strict and without mercy, Zippora loved the days of leaping and turning, jumping and moving and feeling at one with the music. Her body responded. These moments were so magical and uplifting she worked even harder to discover how much more she could achieve.
With the untimely diagnosis of diabetes, Zippora felt her world had come crashing down. Reacting to the daunting reality of administering insulin while exercising up to twelve hours a day was difficult. As she learned how to juggle insulin shots with her intense performance schedule, she started to question whether ballet was a realistic lifestyle for an insulin dependent diabetic. A dancer needs to feel every part of her body from her fingertips to her toes not to mention giving the pinpoint focus required for a great performance. When her sugars were the slightest bit off kilter she lost that vital connection and concentration. Plus, with the amount of exercise in each piece throughout the day she felt like she was constantly on the verge of going hypoglycemic. For many years she contemplated quitting and it would take many years before she learned the precision of juggling the intricacies of her dancing with her diabetes. It was mainly through trial and error since there were no role models or reference points she could use for comparison or guidance.
Zippora’s story is another testimony that with concentration, discipline and determination you can pirouette circles around diabetes. Inspired by Zippora I have taken dance classes and find that dance, besides being great aerobic exercise, helps lower bg’s, elevates the spirit and gives a sense of rhythm that garnishes good posture, balance and grace. Dance can aid with weight loss also since it calls for stepping up activity. Couple this increase with a decrease in food intake and you have mastered the secret formula. MOVE MORE EAT LESS. Tally up your nutritional profile and be sure you are getting enough fresh and seasonal fruits, vegetables along with whole grains and fiber in your daily lifestyle.
Are you ready now to get into the rhythm to say “Shall We Dance!”?