Lisa Chen's Journey of Devotion
By Lisa Chen, Taipei, Taiwan
When I was first diagnosed fast-growing myomas
around my womb last spring, the first thing
I thought was "how will it affect my dancing?"
At that point, I was just GS training certificated
and began to teach ATS at local studio. I also
had dance partners sharing the same vision
and we did our little rehearsal on regular
basis. Everything was just so picturesque-perfect.
I was so excited about devoting to promoting
ATS to local dancers and audiences as well
because I totally felt for this beautiful dance
style. I wish, as well as need more people
join so we could dance together. Eventually,
ATS is about group improvisation and I cannot
dance ATS alone.
My doctor recommended me laparoscope surgery
in order to remove the growing myomas. According
to my doctor, laparoscope surgery is a relatively
safe and quick surgery. Usually it only takes
2 hours and within 3 to 5 days after the surgery,
most patients could leave hospital. After 6
to 8 weeks, patients should be able to return
to normal life style including exercise.
So I was not much worried about my surgery.
I thought I would check out from hospital very
soon and in a month or two, I would be able
to dance again, with a healthy body.
My surgery went well, except I lost 2,000
cc of blood during operation and thus my blood
pressure and body temperature dropped down.
For the first two days after surgery, I only
felt weak but I was not tired at all. Since
I had to spend most time on bed, I decided
to do something lighting myself up. I began
to think of music pieces I danced with other
friends and while music was played in my mind,
the dancing scenes gradually showed up as well.
In my mind, it was like a movie and I saw myself
dancing in full costumes with my dance partners.
It was really great way to kill time and in
the meanwhile, I was very much looking forward
to leaving hospital for future dance plans.
My low blood pressure and weak physical condition
did not improved as expected and further treatments
were applied. I had to accept long-hour intravenous
injections for medicines and nutrition supply.
I also had to take blood transfusion- I had
about 5,000 cc of blood transfusion in total.
So most of time, with injection needles on
both arms, I began to feel pain and tiresome.
During such long-hour treatments, I could
only sing those music pieces in my mind to
distract my attention. Then I thought about
the wonderful visualization experience shared
by Devi Mamak's boyfriend Anthony: he was traveling
on train in Mainland China. It was a long trip
and he had no any physical accessibility of
practicing Taichi routine on train. So he sat
quietly and closed his eyes to practice Taichi
in his mind.
Therefore I sang to myself while imaging there
was a beautiful outdoor place with green grass
and blue sky. I and other dancers dance with
our full make-up and costumes together into
a circle. We face inward the circle and we
can see each others' eyes and smile. We play
zils in fast movements with such excitement
and confidence. Under the tender breeze and
mild sunshine, we dance and we are so contented.
It is simply such happy moment that I wish
it would never end.
The experience successfully distracts my attention
away and really eases my pain and anxiety.
I didn't realize few hours already passed while
I had this imaginary drill in my mind. Furthermore,
since everything is imaginary, I could view
myself and other dancers in some different
angles that won't happen in real life. Thus
I could further feel and see certain movements
with new ideas. From bird-eye view, I saw the
skirts and fringes in different colors swaying
high and the whirling fabrics turning into
blossoming flowers perfectly matching with
green grass and blue sky. This is probably
the most beautiful painting I saw in my life
so far. The vivid image became such unforgettable
stylistic code that later on whenever I recall
this image I could still feel the breeze, the
smell of grass and the zils…
Such visualization truly gave me much encourage
and faith during hospitalization. I really
looked forward to checking out from hospital
and joining my dance partners to share this
wonderful experience with them.
Then this visualization further saved my life.
It was a very minor procedure to remove a
plastic tube penetrating my abdomen to let
off all blood and body fluid inside my belly.
I lost about 10cc of blood during the procedure
and suddenly my body temperature dropped without
any sign. My body temperature dropped so rapidly
that I began to twitch very badly: it was so
bad that I was completely paralyzed. I lost
control over muscle and thus I barely breathed.
My heartbeat rate ran to 190 per minute - somehow
my consciousness was very clear. It was so
clear that I realized I might die at any moment
if I could not do something to calm myself
down, while nurses run out with panic asking
So I began to concentrate on visualizing a
dancer coming onto the stage with spotlight
on her. I could not see her face clearly and
I saw her elegantly and slowly doing prayer
and then moving into dance. I kept counting
beats while this imaginary dancer did all slow
movements I learned from Carolena: taxeem,
camel, torso rotation…. As I exhaled
and inhaled rhythmically while visualizing
this dancer, I felt I became her in a way.
When she lifted her arms, I could feel the
way my arm lifted; when she did a really slow
taxeem (the vertical figure eight), I could
feel my oblique contracted… Then I saw
other dancers joining her on stage and this
trio did a very flawless and harmonious drill,
which I felt like a collective prayer for me.
It brought me much faith and strength to keeping
counting beats and breathing.
Almost half hour later, I returned to normal
condition miraculously. While doctors and nurses
discussed what's happened to me and tried to
find a rational explanation, I knew from my
heart that I saved myself through the dance
I love. Without such visualization as a great
way of meditation, I would not have stayed
fully focused and regained control over my
body. I could have never felt better about
how wonderful this dance is. It is not about
showing off your talent and skills, but a harmonious
and peaceful dialogue between one's body and
After this critical incidence, I gradually
recovered and I promised to myself that I definitely
had to go see Devotion presented by FCBD in
San Francisco and I had to tell Carolena directly
how this dance saved me. I realize life is
truly too short to waste and we have to keep
promise to ourselves for living our life full.
My friend who used to be a nurse came to hospital
visiting me. After I left hospital, she told
me that during my hospitalization, I was in
a very critical condition and I should have
been checked into ICU (intensive care unit).
I was so blessed not knowing about this during
hospitalization and with my faith and passion
on dance, I survived and accessed to a new
body and life.
The idea of seeing Devotion thus became major
motivation of my recovery. I followed an extremely
restricted diet to prevent potential intestine
adhesion and I really collaborated well with
doctors so I could ensure my health condition
was improving. Exactly 8 weeks after my surgery,
I was on airplane to San Francisco. Seeing
Devotion personally is not merely a dream-come-true,
but the first step to realize my promise to
the new life. When I saw FCBD dancers on stage,
tears come out from my eyes. Again, I felt
the collective prayer and the breath-taking
beauty of dance. Coincidently, there was a
dance piece when all dancers coming to stage
and turning individually in a big circle which
reminded me of how life as a journey could
bring us to somewhere we never expect before.
It is this dance teaching us about finding
the inner peace and strength and how we communicate
with ourselves as well as others through our
body movements and eye contacts. This is truly
the meaning and beauty of group improvisation.
After watching Devotion, I could not felt
any more contented with a sense of self-achievement.
Then I had a chance to talk to Carolena at
FCBD studio, where is spiritually my second
home. Words could not fully express how heartfelt
gratitude I had and I truly felt very lucky
and blessed to have ATS at my life. This dance
guides me finding the true face of my inner
personality and self-confidence as well as
more encourage and faith to live my new life
as a dancer and a woman.
One year after my surgery, I am still struggling
with annoying infections and rebuild my core
muscle groups. I also need to accept my new
body image as well. Somehow I feel so grateful
and fortunate to encounter with ATS. It helps
me to learn one of the most challenging and
yet beautiful lesson of life: to know yourself,
to embrace passion and joy into life, and to
be strong. Through this dance, I finally find
the rhythm of life and dance into a new life.