Olivia Cheever

Soul Survivor

Soul Survivor is a multimedia performance launched in 2003 in the tradition of storytelling as a way to connect people to one another. Its subject, violist Rebecca Strauss, wanted others to know about the resources that can help people with trauma history rewrite the script. I represent the Feldenkrais aspect of that creative process. The performance plays to different sensory channels, incorporating sound, sight, and talk through Rebecca’s viola playing, Susan Wilson’s photos of her progress past pain, audiotaped segments from our Feldenkrais sessions, and audience questioning.

Referred by a doctor who knew firsthand the effectiveness of the Feldenkrais Method, Rebecca started out as a freelance musician in too much pain to play her instrument. The diagnosis was “myofascial pain of unknown origin,” even after six years going from pillar to post in both traditional and complementary medicines — including psychotherapy, orthopedics, chiropractic, acupuncture, Alexander Technique, massage, medical intuitives, and psychopharmacology next on the list to deter depression arising from failure to find a cure. Her year and a half of intensive weekly Functional Integration work was the missing link that got her back into her body and reclaiming function.

This work was embryonic for me as well. It was a logical outgrowth of my 2000 article on somatic empathy as connected knowing and feeds into research I'll be pursuing on the culture that supports silencing (that is, not political but physical shutting down). Rebecca's articulate access to her own experience made her an ideal research subject. Exploratory issues were how students make meaning out of what they're empathically learning somatically, and how teachers (and by extension, medical practitioners) can connect meaningfully. See the following for more on Rebecca's case:

The work in progress includes Soul Survivor itself, which is currently moving toward DVD in lieu of live performance so as to reach a wider audience.



Student Stories






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