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On stage

I had a big moment last Friday.

I danced on a stage. With an audience.

I was as excited as I remembered being when I was young and twirling in a tutu. I invited everyone I knew and a few friends took me up on the offer.

I practiced in my kitchen (I’m sure to the chagrin of the guy downstairs) and I got a new top and borrowed a santa hat. I looked up some stage makeup tutorials. I was going to go all out and the only thing that could have made it more exciting would have been a tutu.

recital at the arc

Adults who dance recreationally don’t often get chances to perform and I was going to nail it. Until I got into my head. I started thinking about the car accident where they told me I might not walk again. I started thinking about the CRPS diagnosis. I was thinking about the cane that is folded in my bag at all times, just in case.

I was thinking just how lucky I am to have this opportunity as an adult. I was thinking just how far I have come since I started dancing. I was thinking how great it is that I get to dance with a crowd of supportive people who love to dance as much as I do. I was frozen.

As the music started, my feet started moving. The energy from my class was contagious and I found myself smiling and dancing. When the music cut out half way through our number, I took a deep breath and kept going. I might have gotten a few steps wrong and I might have rushed, but those weren’t what mattered. I was dancing. On a stage. With an audience.

The moment was perfect.

(This performance wouldn’t have been what it was without the community I found in the Tap II Too class at American Rhythm Center. A group that is unwaveringly supportive and always ready to celebrate milestones and accomplishments.)

class from american rhythm center

It was a great finale to a year filled with change and growth.

december dance

This triumph wasn’t something I achieved on my own.

It took the support of my family taking the time to get me to and from numerous appointments and procedures. It took patience from friends when I had to cancel dinners for pain or dance. It took a team of doctors to give me movement back. It took an army of teachers to teach me how to move again.

On Saturday mornings, Lynne helped me learn how to engage different muscles and get my left side on board with what the right side was doing. On Sundays, Tristan drills tap technique (in collusion with my PT, I’m sure…) in ways that challenge my bad leg’s range of motion. On Mondays when I’m having a good week, Natalie encourages discipline and fearlessness. One Tuesdays, Lane’s focus on rhythm promotes a connection with my feet that I haven’t had in years. On Wednesdays, Mark’s lessons in musicality and and detailed technique fixes bad movement habits. On Thursdays, Suzanne gives me a chance to glide and fly while building strength and balance.

I’m stronger, physically and mentally

It’s something that I didn’t dare hope for a year ago. Just like I never imagined that I would dance, much less on a stage.

Battling this disease is a bit like Sisyphus pushing that boulder up the hill, but thanks to all these people the hill has gotten just a little bit shorter and there are dance breaks on the way.

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