Geis kicks up heels, post-surgery

The band kicked into “New York, New York.” The mood was right and Gary Geis impulsively launched himself into his comeback dance performance.

“A lot of people thought it was planned. It wasn’t. I just knew the music took me, and I was back in full swing,” he said of the moment at February’s Springfield Symphony Orchestra fundraiser, after undergoing a quadruple bypass nearly a year prior.

It’s that spirit the longtime dance instructor is projecting onto the dancers who will perform at the biennial Dance for Four event on Saturday at the Clark State Performing Arts Center.

For a man whose life has been about dance since age 6, the revelation last year he had a 90 percent blockage in his heart left Geis stunned.

“I couldn’t believe it, I’ve been so active in my life,” he said. “I’d had some pain in my arm and was dizzy. It’s happened to most of my family; it’s genetic.”

On May 29, 2014, Geis underwent surgery at Springfield Regional Medical Center. Then it was on to a 12-week rehab period.

Geis credited the doctors and rehab staff in his road to recovery. And they commended some of his choices.

He was told his active lifestyle likely saved his life and that a 90 percent blockage could have been far more damaging.

By September 2014, Geis, age 71, was back in his Bushnell Building studio doing what he loves. He’s teaching eight or nine classes a week, far fewer than the 35-40 classes he did at his peak, but no less satisfying.

Besides his health advisors, the thoughts and prayers of friends, students and staff contributed to Geis’ recovery, he said.

Dance for 4 should speed his recovery even further. He’s choreographing two pieces for the show.

Having the chance to help someone who chooses dancing as an activity holds a certain magic still for Geis. The lights, audience and stage give him a chance to relive his past through the youngsters on stage.

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