BWW Interviews: 'I Move Forward's' Marc Kimelman
There is a wonderful event coming up in Toronto that is uniting the arts community in the fight against cancer. "I Move Forward" is a project thought up by Marc Kimelman, a Toronto-based dancer and artist who was recently diagnosed with cancer and is currently undergoing treatment. The purpose of "I Move Forward" is to raise awareness and money for people in the arts community who are sick and struggling with finances as a result of being in a business that (more often than not) does not offer any sort of medical and benefit coverage.
The event will bring together many stars of the Toronto and North American theatre communites for one night only in an attempt to raise money for the cause. It will be a collaborative evening of music and dance not to be missed, with a focus on celebrating triumph and survival. In addition to all the Canadian talent coming out to support Marc and his cause, it has been confirmed that Broadway star Gavin Creel (most recently of HAIR) will be heading North to lend his support as well.
BWW sat down to talk with Marc Kimelman about his personal battle and about what people can do to help "I Move Forward" be the biggest success it can be:
First, congratulations on the show being sold out! Can you tell us a bit about what this event is for and how you came up with the idea?
Thank you so much! Well, fighting cancer is a mental and emotional battle, but it's a financial battle as well. When I was being treated for non-hodgkins lymphoma, I met a lot of fellow patients who had to leave chemo treatments and go to work all day. They are unable to give their bodies the proper rest they need to fight the illness because they have to support themselves and their families. All proceeds from "I Move Forward" will go to The Actor's Fund to help artists touched by cancer. It will pay their rent, utility and grocery bills, among other needs -- whatever they need to go through treatment while taking care of themselves and their families and meeting their financial obligations.
You have been facing a very difficult battle, how do you manage to find the time to coordinate such a big fund-raising event and deal with the daily struggles of fighting cancer?
Luckily, I have an amazing team working with me. My producers, Mitchell Marcus, Jen Shuber and Jason Kimelman, are incredible. While I organize things from my hospital bed and coffee shops, they do all of the legwork and keep everything on track. Also, having a creative outlet during this time when I could not dance became so important. "I Move Forward" energizes me. I am able to work on something meaningful and enjoyable during this challenging time. I have been lucky to do a lot of exciting gigs in my life, but this definitely feels like the most important work I've ever done.
Who would you say are some of your biggest influences when it comes to fighting cancer?
The first book I was given post-diagnosis was Lance Armstong's It's Not About the Bike. It tells the story of his struggle with testicular cancer candidly. Lance inspired me to choose to not be afraid and not only survive, but thrive. Lance's book and fighting spirit were a daily inspiration. I would often fist pump the poster of him I had in my hospital room. *laughs* Also, my family is unbelievable and is a consistent source of inspiration. No one wants to put their loved ones through something like this, and not wanting them to struggle with it motivated me to stay positive and strong.
It sounds like you have had a great outpouring of support from the Toronto Arts Community, were you surprised?
Well, no, I wasn't surprised. The Toronto Arts Community is a supportive bunch of insanely talented and nurturing people. When I got sick and started telling people, the messages I received daily filled my heart and kept me fighting. The community really had my back, and I felt all of the healing energy that was sent to me each day. The Toronto Arts Community lost an amazingly beautiful talent to cancer last year. Her name is Lindsay Thomas, and her tragic loss has shaken our community and brought us closer. Her loving spirit lives on. I am so lucky to be an artist; we are so lucky to do what we do. We get to inspire people and share ourselves with our audiences. We must remember to be grateful and appreciative for a life surrounded by the arts.
What can people expect at the show?
An unforgettable night is in the works. We are exploring themes of battling illness through the means of expression that makes the most sense to me -- song and dance. We have a live five-piece band onstage, headed by our fabulous musical director Wayne Gwillim. Each song has a different vocalist and a different choreographer assigned to it. We have 11 vocalists from Broadway, the Stratford Festival and Toronto's top productions, as well as 50 of Toronto's best dancers. There will also be a short set by none other than Gavin Creel and Robbie Roth. We will also hear stories from artists who have been touched by cancer to better understand the struggles that occur daily and remind us to continue to help people in whatever way we can.
Finally, since you are sold out, how can people help who won't be able to attend the actual event?
The best way to help is through donations. Every dollar counts and helps support cancer patients during a very difficult time in their lives. Go to www.imoveforward.ca and follow the link to buy tickets. You will then see an option to donate. I know how hard it is as an artist to find extra cash to help out a good cause. If you can't help out financially, keep spreading good energy and support those who need it. Continue to be good to each other and inspire people to keep fighting and keep moving. Volunteer, share love and smile at people everyday. Take time to care for others and take time to love yourself. We move forward together.
When and Where?
I Move Forward
Jane Mallett Theatre at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts
October 25th 2010 at 8PM
Tickets are currently sold out but donations can be made by going to www.imoveforward.ca or visiting the venue's website here