Being active in the pro-life community, I have been blessed with meeting some extraordinary people. Sandy Arena suffered the emotional and spiritual consequences of abortion and courageously stepped forward to share her story in a beautiful and touching way … through dance. It is an honor to spotlight her on my blog and I hope you all share her links with friends and family.
~~~~~~~~In Sandy's Words~~~~~~~~
I finally came public with my story a few years ago when I was in my early forties when I found myself in a very unique situation in a public identity mix up when a woman with my same name who lives in my city was accused of murder. Everyone thought it was me when the story of this other "Sandy Arena" hit the news. I initially set myself apart from her in self-righteousness and claimed to be the "good" Sandy Arena, not the one accused of murder and who was all over the news. That was my initial reaction, until I honestly looked deep inside my heart and I knew this was not true. I knew that I had taken the life of others - my children - even though society did not call it as such and that I had no right to set myself apart in righteousness. I shared my heart, my thoughts and my sympathies for the other parties involved in this situation in an opinion essay in our daily newspaper and my abortion story was out. It was terrifying, but I was free.
I was so impacted by this very unexpected and public abortion confession, that I wrote a ballet to share my story. It has become my life work. It is called The Life Ballet and it is performed by the ballet company my husband and I founded in 2006. This live production is written in the form of a letter of regret to my unborn children where we share a message of life, hope and healing to the people suffering as I had suffered in the aftermath of the "choice" of abortion for so many dark and horrible years. We have performed our show around the country and also in Canada for seven years now. It is my art and my heart and the best way I know to tell my story of regret and hope in the wake of abortion. It is one way I can honor my children's lives. It's the birthday party, graduation party and wedding event I was never able to throw for them. I know it's "my story", but I say it's "many women's story" with one in three women having an abortion by the age of 45. There is nothing I can say that can trump what is shown on stage in The Life Ballet (and now in film with "Arise Sweet Sarah") through the power of music and movement. My oldest daughter plays the lead character in the show whose name is "Sarah" and for this I am humbled and grateful. My youngest daughter Anna dances the part of "young Sarah".
Our latest project is our film "Arise Sweet Sarah" which is based on our live production. The film will be released in September 2015. The film shares a message of the value and importance of all human life, as well as a message of healing, forgiveness and grace in the midst of unthinkable grief in the wake of lost motherhood. It is based on the testimony of Sandy Arena and includes performances by both of her daughters Annaliese Arena and Alexis Gaetano and her husband Sam Arena. The story is told through a powerful combination of narration, acting, original score and a combination of modern dance and ballet. Filming took place in Rochester, NY during the summer of 2014 in conjunction with Verb Records who represents The Life Ballet. Verb Records was recently named the Record Label of the Year by the IMEA awards.
My mourning has indeed turned to dancing and I can only hope my story and our show will continue to lead others impacted by abortion towards a lighted path of forgiveness and healing. I often say that to remove from society a child deemed unwanted or inconvenient, is to release back into that same society a woman marred and scarred by the choice of abortion. I believe there is a better way for women in the great land of America. Our country was built by courageous and strong men and women who were fearless and creative and who were pioneers. I know my fore-sisters were birthing babies in covered wagons. We can certainly do better for women than killing our children when faced with fear or uncertainty in the event of an unplanned pregnancy.
I don't always enjoy baring my soul and sharing these dark events in the history of my life, but I do it so others may choose differently and with the hope that one day legalized abortion in America will end.
ARISE SWEET SARAH OFFICIAL TRAILER
Learn more about The Life Ballet at www.thelifeballet.org.
Sandy Arena is an artist working from her Arts Illuminate Studio located in the Auditorium Center in Rochester, NY. She is a family and lifestyle photographer, writer, film maker, and songwriter. She is a home school educator to her own children, as well as others as a photography teacher at Home School Academy. She teaches children's movement and pom-pom cheer classes, and God's Girl Princess Classes at her studio. Sandy is the wife to Sam Arena and mom to three beautiful children - Alexis, Caleb and Annaliese. She is an avid runner having completed a full and half marathon in her lifetime. Sandy was a former fitness instructor, as well as a newspaper journalist and food and restaurant publicist in the greater New York and Philadelphia areas. In all her endeavors, Sandy is passionate about sharing the joys of motherhood and family, as well as proclaiming Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. With God's help, vision and direction, she will fight for the rights of children and children's healthcare until the end. In her spare time she juggles duties as a basketball and football mom, dance mom, and pageant mom!