I always thought that the moment I signed that first company contract, I’d be set. Or at least until I retired. Turns out that wasn't the case for me. I started dancing at the age of 10, and became professional at age 23 and held company positions for three years. At age 25, I took a leap of faith and pushed myself to dance for two companies, guest for multiple dance studios/companies, and maintain jobs at two dance academies. It all sounds adventurous until you look at the challenges I went through. These challenges or even set backs you could say, were nothing extreme, but at the time it felt like a never ending up hill battle of me against the world.
In 2013/2014 I was living with my parents in Los Angeles, California trying to pick myself up from what I thought was the end of my dancing days. I had previously danced as a trainee at a company in Virginia and found myself miserable. I had gone through a lot with my weight, and was tired of hearing continuous banter about being “so good, but so big”. So I called it quits. I moved home to my parents and they kindly let me stay with them for a year to regroup and find myself. During this year I engaged in a long distance relationship back in Virginia, so even though I left, a piece of me was still there. I spent my year at home teaching for two wonderful dance studios, and soon realized that nothing in life could make me as happy and as whole as dance did. So, at the end of this long year, I decided to strap the shoes back on and dance again, but this time for a different company in Virginia, and that long distance relationship was no longer at a distance.
Although moving back to Virginia felt comfortable, it was about to be the biggest change I’d make in my life yet. New jobs, a new home, new friends, and just a whole new way of life that I swore I’d be ready for. My first year dancing went by smoothly. I was happily cast in an abundance of ballets and was well accepted by the audiences. At the end of that first season though, I had major pains and complications with my right ankle that I couldn’t quite figure out. After a couple months of insurance battles, I found out I was born with an Os Trigonum (an extra bone at the back of the ankle) that is only difficult if you are an athlete who’s ankle mobility is important. So my surgeon and I decided it would be best to use cortisone shots until the end of the season when we would discuss surgery.
That next season went by well enough and I was yet again happily cast in ballets that I enjoyed amongst people I liked. However, I sensed a lack of support from my other half and even more when I was asked to give up a dream of mine for their comfort. I knew soon enough that I wanted out but I didn’t know how. I was in the middle of signing two company contracts and setting up appointments for ankle surgery. There just didn’t seem like a proper time to call things off, especially when I was in dire need of help and support. So when it happened, it happened suddenly and with much difficulty.
I spent the summer of 2016 on my own recovering from surgery and preparing myself for a new journey with many new performing opportunities ahead of me. What I thought would be an awesome year, turned out to be a year of many learning experiences and very little joy. I struggled heavily with my first contract, still in pain from ankle surgery, and somehow felt a large amount of discrimination from my director. That first season ended in tears, but I knew I’d be back to my normal life again.
Upon my return home, I realized that politics are so unfortunately everywhere I go and within weeks, I knew it would be my last season with the company that was my home for the past 3 years. I slowly but surely became less and less motivated to do what I loved. So the season ended with much heart ache, but with the best sense of relief.
So what now then? What’s next? Where will I dance? My answer is that I have no clue, but that I won’t stop. Dance is as much apart of me as the air that I breathe. I hope to step on stage until I’m gray and old, and that I continue to dazzle the audiences until the curtain closes.