Thursday, August 9, 2012

Chernobyl Refugee Turned Wounded US Soldier Heals Through Contortionist Dance

Galina was born and raised in Kiev, Ukraine.  At the age of 8, Galina and her family fled to Seattle due to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant radiation leak disaster.

In 2001, at age 21, Galina joined the US Army due to her patriotism, benefits available, and future education opportunities.  Standing at 5’ 1” and about 100 pounds, Galina was commanded to carry 80 pounds of equipment during obstacle course training with shoes that were too small.  
(left) Galina with her companion, Diva; (right) Galina performing her variation of contortionist dance
Photos courtesy of Karen Ready
In this environment, Galina was injured with a stress fracture in her heel which led to surgery. Not aware of her allergy to metal due to the exposure of radiation from the Chernobyl catastrophe, the surgeons put metal screws in her foot to keep the bone in place.  After an extremely painful outcome, two of the three screws were removed.  Now she is in constant pain and suffers from muscular skeletal nervous system disorder from the single metal screw left in her body.   At times, Galina's companion a Long-Haired Chihuahua named Diva was the only deterrent from suicide. 
(above) Diva, Galina's life saving dog, watches the performance
Photo courtesy of Karen Ready
To this day, Galina is unable to walk and has difficulty with balance.  She is able to mobilize using a cane or walker.  Through many variations of physical and psychological training, she now finds her childhood love her most healing option—dance.  Galina has titled herself a contortionist dancer.  Her debut performance will take place at Bilinear Art Gallery with Bilinear Art House Master of Ceremonies Areola Borialis.

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