My Cerebral Palsy Helps Me Dance

June 1, 2017

4 min read

Tell us a little bit about yourself… What’s your story?

My name is Jerron Herman. I'm a professional dancer, writer, and thinker. I work in the arts and one day I hope to intersect everything I love into my work. I live with Hemiplegia Cerebral Palsy, a neuromuscular disorder acquired in birth. I was diagnosed when I was three months old. I grew up in a faith-based household, so pity was infrequent and moving past pain was my main lesson. I was never taught to ignore my disability, though. In fact, I was always taught to explain how it has many parts. I also learned how to live outside of other people's expectations by using it to my advantage. Because I believe my disability is an integral part of who I am is the main reason I dance with a physically integrated company in New York City called Heidi Latsky Dance. In addition to performing with the company, touring and premiering works, I write the company's grants, liaise with foundations, corporations, and donors, as well as travel and speak on the company's behalf at conferences and symposiums. With Heidi Latsky I am currently facilitating a community action art piece called ON DISPLAY GLOBAL. ON DISPLAY is our sculpture court of diverse people, varying in age, size, race, disability, gender, and so on. We invite cities all over the world to replicate the sculpture court with their communities, bridging gaps of understanding and tolerance for those who are different. This year we want 50 cities to join. I'm also writing and acting again, and learning how to be "visible." 

Why do you think the mission of Springible is so important?

Interconnection is so important, but it's often the last thing we think about when it comes to care, perspective, or change for individuals with disabilities. We focus on the subject and not his or her network or the person within his or her network. I believe shining the light on caregivers, supporters, and families will lead to change and action. I also believe in highlighting that there are more people directly affected by disability than is often considered. It's important that we as a culture single out or obsess over disability. Springible uses stories to connect everyone. It's not the diagnosis, it's about helping everyone learn and listen, showing us how special needs and disabilities connect us.

What conventional lifestyle product or brand do you use daily that makes your day-to-day easier?

A softball; it's a life-saver for any dancer! I picked one up from Modell's about a year and a half ago and I can't do anything without it. I quickly learned how a hard ball is therapeutic, as it digs into my "trouble areas" like my hip joints, hamstrings, and lower back. It also eases my chronic spasticity and as I dance. I need that extra oomph, so a softball is perfect. When I was performing our last world premiere show I hid my softball in the wings, so as I leaped offstage I could quickly roll out my hamstrings before jumping back on stage. A softball is for everyone, though, not just dancers. I learned over a Christmas trip at my parent's house, my mom starting using mine. It began easing her pain and gave her so much more flexibility. She picked up her own shortly after! The softball can be intense for most, so a golf ball and tennis ball are other options, too.

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JERRON SHERMAn putting on his shoes at his apartment in nyc

What’s your best advice for someone learning to live independently with a special need or a disability? 

First, make your own plan and have faith in the results. When I was diagnosed someone else wrote my script and then gave me my lines to read, but I'm the writer! I'm determined to outdo expectations and change people's ideas along the way. It starts with me. I decide - I'm going to dance or I'm going to write. I decide I'm living in my own apartment and I'm going to get a job I love. I also decide Thursdays are better to go grocery shopping. From the small to the audacious - my plans are self-made. Second, don't worry about how you'll do it because there will always be some sort of modification. What can't change is the fire to step out and do something grand with your life.

- Jerron Herman, Springible Contributor

jerron sherman smiling at camera in his apartment