At 27, Kelsey Peterson dove into Lake Superior, off the shores of Wisconsin, and emerged paralyzed. Now, the former dancer struggles to redefine who she is while adapting to life with a disability. At the intersection of acceptance and hope, Kelsey unexpectedly finds herself facing an opportunity to dance again, showing her a new path toward acceptance, all the while grappling with a decision to participate in a cutting-edge clinical trial that could bring her much-desired change — forcing her to evaluate the possibilities of her recovery, body, and spirit.
In Move Me, a first-time filmmaker with a disability simultaneously takes the reins behind the scenes, while revealing her inner revolution through raw storytelling onscreen.
Dancer and choreographer Kelsey Peterson was paralyzed from the chest down after diving into shallow waters. In conjunction with a friend injured in the same manner, Kelsey decides to dance for the first time since her accident by creating a unique piece of choreography. Her documentary feature MOVE ME is a portrait of a woman attempting to reclaim her identity.
The combination of home movies, rehearsals, and scenes from her daily life create a raw picture of Kelsey’s existence. Kelsey explains that after the accident, she realized that the world does not accommodate her current state. This singular statement makes MOVE ME so much more profound for able-body viewers. When you see the rehearsal restroom, the irony is exhausting.
MOVE ME doesn’t simply tell the tale of a single dance. Kelsey navigates her father’s declining health while simultaneously researching the possibility of joining an experimental trial. She speaks with other participants, discovering that it’s not all positive outcomes. Uncertainty looms large as Kelsey weighs her options. She holds nothing back, tackling everything from bowel function to sexual sensation.
“A Cripple’s Dance” bases pieces of its choreography on Kelsey and Gabe’s moments of impact and what followed in the water. The intimacy of the camera work is visceral. Gabe’s lyrics are profoundly beautiful and hit you in the heart like a dagger. The result will give you chills.
This film was personal for me. I began dancing at the age of three. Since then, I have competed, choreographed, and expressed myself through movement. When I lost some of my abilities from an emergency appendectomy and then years later, a neck injury, I was devastated. I remember the grief of losing those lifelong skills, talents that came without thought as they were muscle memory. Let me be clear I am able-bodied. You would not know I was in pain by the way I move through the day. I cannot begin to fathom the strength Kelsey Peterson possesses daily. Her positive outlook and relentless optimism drive her film. To me, she’s fearless. She’s sort of my hero. MOVE ME makes me appreciate my body’s movement tenfold.
Co-Directors: Kelsey Peterson, Daniel Klein
Producers: Kelsey Peterson, Daniel Klein, Madeline Brown
Executive Producers: Lois Vossen, Sally Jo Fifer, Joanna Rudnick
Cinematographer: Brennan Vance
Editor: Nico Bovat