Man’s passion for movement leads to life of dance
As soon as the music starts, Thomas Radtke lets go of his body. His arms loosely and fluidly move through space as his head follows the rhythm of his lower body. Radtke’s graceful, dramatic movements look easy enough, but African and Out of the Box dancing are far from it.African dance uses drums and ceremonial beats to celebrate African culture, worship and life, said dance instructor Radtke, 26, of Carbondale. Out of the Box dancing is modern dance that works with linear, curved and dropped movements that access all forces of energy, Radtke said.The key to both dances is letting the body move in whatever direction it feels like moving in.”Modern dance is an open door for living out your experience,” Radtke said. “When you feel a particular emotion such as sadness or happiness, movement gives force to it. Movements can be physical representations of our energy patterns.”
Radtke is a dancer, yoga instructor, massage therapist and is certified in Feldenkrais – a type of movement used to improve well-being – in Glenwood Springs, Aspen, El Jebel and Carbondale.Radtke’s passion for movement started before he could dance.”My grandfather always used to say I was a lethal weapon because I would wear shoes with wooden soles and when I sat on his lap, I’d bruise his shins because I couldn’t help moving,” Radtke said. “I just remembering how much I loved to wake up to the morning sun.”Radtke retains his child-like lust for life. Even when recalling physically or emotionally painful events, Radtke keeps smiling, determined to remain optimistic.Radtke, who was raised in Mount Prospect, Ill., and has traveled around the world, came to Glenwood Springs in 1997 to perform “Fiddler on the Roof.” A few weeks later, he packed his bags, bought a bus ticket and moved to Carbondale.”It was a big decision to move from my family and friends,” Radtke said. “I did it because of inspiration and intuition. It was the first experience I had in trusting that, and since then I’ve learned to trust it again.”Radtke slept on a couch in a drum store and worked in a coffee shop. After leaving Carbondale for a few years, he returned and got a job as a dog musher.
While guiding a dogsled at 30 miles an hour, Radtke hit a tree. Radtke was severely injured and declared 8 percent handicapped from the waist down. Radtke’s injuries prohibited him from dancing.”At that time I had a few options: I could beat myself up, I could pull forward and make it happen again, or I could see it as a fairly substantial turn in my life and search for healing,” Radtke said.When Radtke decided to heal, he devoted himself to yoga. Although his knees still bother him, yoga permitted Radtke to re-build enough strength and flexibility to continue dancing.Radtke’s optimism, devotion and focus are contagious, said Radtke’s ballet partner, Ann Marie Kelley of Glenwood Springs.”This sounds so corny, but he’s just so happy,” Kelley said. “He’s such a young guy but so mature in so many ways. He’s very skilled at what he does and he’s very, very serious about it.”
Radtke has free time but he spends it going to conferences, earning certifications and reading about his areas of study.”I feel he’s well studied – like he’s devoted himself to the practice of yoga,” Susan Gibbs, one of Radtke’s yoga students, said.Every one of Radtke’s certifications and degrees are designed to make people feel better about themselves. “The message on Thomas’ answering machine summarizes his personality,” Kelley said. “Instead of ‘leave a message,’ it says, ‘create a great day.'”Contact Ivy Vogel: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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