“At nineteen years of age it happened like the flick of a dime…” says Rodney Bell, who, as a result of a motorcycle accident, lost feeling and function from the “nipple-line down”.
Rodney Bell is this month's Creative Momentum featured creative. He shares, with wit, humour and unguarded honesty, his diverse experience as a Maori disabled man who discovered the international world of dance.
“I used to run and play rugby and do many able-bodied things. After my disability I thought my life was over. While in rehab the focus at the spinal unit was mouth painting and blow darts. I remember thinking…. ‘well, that’s very interesting but felt deep inside there had to be something else out there’.”
Bell says because he acquired his disability he is going to spend the rest of his life learning about a certain culture.
“I’ve been so fortunate because of my personality, stubbornness and culture to meet a lot of strong representatives in the disabled community. I always had empathy for others and this reflects upon how I deal with my disability also. I also find managing my disability is not easy now but second nature. I now try to tune into the little things that matter.
“At the end of the day it’s the creativity and it doesn’t just come from one place it is outer body also. Often I feel creative sparks from my experiences and then draw upon my muscle memory which speaks for itself.”
Rodney Bell is Maori (Ngati Maniapoto) and has lived in Berkeley, California USA since July 2007.
On 24 March 2009 Rodney won an Isadora Duncan Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement in Performance - Ensemble. The Isadora Duncan Dance Awards, or “Izzies”, were created in 1984 and “are designed to celebrate the unique richness, diversity and excellence of Bay Area dance”. Award recipients are recognized for their outstanding achievements over a 12 month period from September 1 through to August 31 each year. Learn more about the “Izzies” awards at www.izzies.org.
Creative Momentum is a virtual movement around creative diversity. Through an international website and local events they want to create more awareness of creativity and diversity. Each month they feature a new creative. Watch Rodney Bell share his diverse experience in the full video interview, and read the transcript, at www.creativemomentum.org
Video Description: Recorded at Momentum’09 on February 28, 2009, Rodney Bell shows his passion and talent in a demonstration with dance partner, Olivia Eng. In association with Creative New Zealand.