Natasha Anne Gaziano
What better way to introduce you to
than to tell her story in her own words.
Since she was a reflective and eloquent
writer, excerpts from her writings are
incorporated into this epigrammatic
Natasha's Lungs for Lion Online Journal
Living with cystic fibrosis Natasha “learned that life is very precious and it is something that I cannot take for granted. With every breath I take, I can only drive forward and hope for a better tomorrow!” “I have an inner strength so powerful that it sets my level of motivation on fire. This strength begins in my soul and generates an energy source that gives me the determination and persistence to go on.” With this enthusiasm Natasha strove to be a valuable role model, a motivational speaker, a dancer, a teacher, and an avid fundraiser for her cystic fibrosis community.
Natasha’s passion was dance. It was her obsession. She wrote “Dance is as important to me as breathing, this creative expression feeds my soul. It fills a void in me that I cannot articulate. Dance comforts my spirit and empowers me to feel good even on my worst day.” With this passion, Natasha was able to use dance as an expressive channel for exercise and airway clearance, an educational pursuit, and her career.
At the young age of three years old, Natasha was introduced to dance as a form of exercise since anecdotal evidence established the notion that physically active individuals with cystic fibrosis enjoyed a greater degree of better health. But Natasha just fell in love with this artistic movement! She wrote “while other children played with crayons, I developed dance combinations.” It was an added benefit that after dancing, especially tapping, she felt as if she had thirty minutes of rigorous chest PT.
Natasha lived her dream while pursuing a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Florida. She performed with the university’s prestigious MOD Project and the Shadow Dance Theater. She showcased her first original choreography No Tears Left on a provocative and daring subject, the holocaust. “Through dance and digital art I tried to evoke mental images of the horrific atrocities that were suffered by millions in concentration camps at the hands of the Nazis’. It is important to remind the world that the hate and murders that happened during World War II is occurring in Eastern Europe today.”
As an undergraduate, Natasha participated in a Laban Movement Analysis course. “After a few weeks, I noticed an improvement in my breathing and overall well-being. I observed similarities between Laban breathing techniques and autogenic drainage. When combining both techniques, I experienced an increase in breathing stamina, a clearer mental focus, and a more positive outlook.” From this new self-discovery, the concept for her research as a University Scholar was conceived. With her mentor, Joan Frosch, her research was published in the Journal of Undergraduate Research. Natasha desperately wanted to share the benefits of Laban breathing with the cystic fibrosis community, so an exercise video “Creating An Art Out Of Breathing” followed. For this research and video she was awarded the Blair L. Sadler International Arts in Healthcare Award.
Career In Dance
In February 2005, Natasha received a special “gift of life” through a double lung transplant. Four months later, she was teaching dance to students at the University of Florida as well as pursuing a career as a Dancer in Residence with Shands Hospital Arts in Medicine Program. Implementing Traffic, an innovative and motivational dance program, for overweight and diabetic teens, Natasha’s participants developed “self-esteem and confidence while working to become as healthy as possible.” Natasha wrote “I have experienced the profound healing effects that the arts, particularly dance, combined with traditional medicine have on the healing process.”
As a Pilates practitioner and founder of “Breathe Strong,” Natasha taught individuals with cystic fibrosis eight Pilates therapeutic exercises that were aimed at strengthening the upper body, preventing severe kyphosis, and increasing lung capacity through focusing on breath, improving posture, joint health, and bone density.
In Natasha’s short life, she was not able to complete all that she wanted to achieve. Through her legacy, the Natasha Anne Gaziano Foundation, the torch “for a better tomorrow” will continue to carry on with her same determination and persistence to help others with cystic fibrosis.
More About Natasha
Breathe Strong: Pilates for CF - Online exercise and therapy group established by Natasha for the CF community.
Creating an Art Out of Breath - Academic journal article published by Natasha in UF's Journal of Undergraduate Research.
Books Change Lives - Natasha's article expressing the impact of The Diary of Anne Frank