Lyena Strelkoff is an inspired creative artist and innovative educator. A professional dancer and actor, Lyena’s life was forever altered after a fall left her paralyzed from the waist down. Forced to re-examine the very essence of her life, she discovered new pathways of artistic and personal expression, reflecting a rare spirit of grace and courage, gratitude and compassion.
Wolfman Productions presents It’s Not About The Chair, an engaging, entertaining, intimate look at life with paralysis. Sometimes heartbreaking, often hilarious, “Master Storyteller” Lyena Strelkoff lays bare her disability, inviting the audience into her experience – from trauma to transcendence, bathroom to bedroom, doctors to dancing – with an insightful, personal connection that is deeply impactful and truly unforgettable.
In this unique blend of lecture and performance, Lyena delivers a riveting, unflinchingly honest account of becoming paralyzed, and building a life of happiness, success and love anyway. In the process, she debunks and demystifies our preconceptions of life in a wheelchair and creates an environment of openness where no question is too personal and no answer is too private.
A nationally recognized actor and writer, Lyena has spoken in colleges and performed in theaters throughout the United States, to both critical and artistic acclaim. Most recently, she was honored by VSA Arts, an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as a selected performer in their 2010 International Festival and asked to speak about accessibility and disability in the arts at the National Performance Network Annual Meeting.
Creative expression has always been a necessity in Lyena’s life. In the face of her injury, artistry offers a means to understand and integrate her experience, while also providing a way to connect with the hearts and minds of other people. Intrinsic to Lyena’s personal philosophy is the need to transcend her own circumstance, and to transform her insight, experience and growth into positive opportunities for others.
Lyena’s story has moved thousands across the country, helping others find in themselves the courage to face their vulnerabilities. Through her journey, she offers an approach to life that paves the way for happiness and success, no matter what the obstacle.
“Thank you for your wonderful and powerful story tonight. You’ve changed this college girl’s outlook on life.”
— Mary Y., St. Mary’s College
“I think a story like this is important as service to the community, for people with various disabilities and for the lucky ones who are physically and mentally well, but are enriched by a window to a more complex and difficult way to live one’s life.”
— Rachel K., USC
“Your performance is an experience that will stay with me throughout my entire life.”
–Nathan F., UCLA
“Her story was completely different than my own story, yet it had everything to do with my life. I’ll never forget it.”
–Anastasia L., Worcester State
“I’ve been waiting five years to hear this story, ever since I was paralyzed. No one is brave enough to tell the truth. Now I see my life and myself differently.”
— Eric R., Samuel Merritt University