From attempted suicide to dance.
Question: Who are you?
Sharon Gannon: Sharon Gannon.
Well of course I’m not sure where I was born, but my parents told me that I was born in Georgetown University Hospital – Washington, D.C. That’s our Nation’s Capital, and I was born at dawn on July 4th.
In my early childhood we lived in D.C. And my dad was a racecar driver. So at one point when I was about three we moved to Florida to be near Daytona Beach. And that really didn’t last long. His ambitions kind of fizzled out and we went back to D.C. But then they separated and I moved with my mother to various places. We lived on a farm in West Virginia. Then we moved to Tucson, Arizona. And I grew up during my high school years in Seattle, Washington which I loved before I moved to New York.
I thought I’d be a poet. I don’t know if that’s a profession, but it’s always been kind of the filter from which I’ve seen and acted through.
I was suffering a very traumatic experience in my very early twenties. And previous to that, I was a bookworm. And I was very not connected to my body, my physical body. And so this trauma happened; it was a very severe shakeup.
And to make a long story short, I tried to kill myself, and my sister actually saved me. And I was trying to do it in a very bizarre way – falling in front of cars during rush hour traffic. She saw me from a bedroom window and ran down to where I was and slapped me and said, “What do you think you’re doing?” I was like, “Oooooh, I want to kill myself. I’m just no good,” and blah, blah, blah, blah. And she was only 19, and she said something so mature for a 19 year-old woman – my younger sister even. She said, “If someone had hit you and had killed you, how do you think the rest of their life would be? How do you think that would impact on them for the rest of their life?” And at that moment that pushed me out of my self-involved, woe-is-me, I’m no good bubble. And I realized something about myself, about all of us, and that was that everything that we do impacts everyone around us. And so because of that incident I made a conscious decision – “Wow I’d better pull myself together and try to find someway to live in a way that perhaps I could contribute something of benefit to others.” And because I was physically a wreck, a friend of my sister’s who was a dance student at the University of Washington – I lived in Seattle – suggested why don’t you take a summer dance, ballet workshop? They give these things for non-matriculated students, adult students. It might do you some good. So I actually did and studied with an incredible teacher, Ruthanna Boris, who was a Balanchine dancer. And I was really the worst person in the class. And I was 21 years old. I really could not tell my left from my right. But I knew that if I was going to have a positive effect upon others, that I couldn’t be this shattered, shy, anorexic, afraid-of-my-own-shadow type of a person. I had to claim my body. I had to claim my life in a way that then I could perhaps contribute in some way to the happiness of others.
Recorded on: October 31, 2007