Imagine having something taken away from you that you loved dearly; a hobby or passion that made you want to get out of bed in the morning every day because you loved doing it so much. Then, in an instance, you lose one of the things you loved so much. It is devastating. I have experienced this and it has changed my life.
I first started dancing when I was about four or five.
I started taking dance classes in hip-hop, tap, ballet, and jazz. I wanted to try out for the competition team in high school before I graduated at a dance studio I was taking classes at. Then, one day during dance class, I did a leap and it took me a while to get up. This small incident ended up getting bigger each day. When I was 15 years old, my body was getting weaker, sore, and I could barely move. It was such a struggle to not only dance, but it was hard to climb the stairs, open up a water bottle, write, play sports; the list is endless.
Fast forward a few months after the incident, I was admitted to the hospital with the diagnosis of a nerve disease called CIDP.
It is a chronic illness that makes your nerves weak. My legs became so skinny and I lost most muscle in my feet with nerve damage being abundant. This means I can barely move my feet without my leg braces that help me move them. I can’t stand on my toes, lift my feet up, pick them up, and wiggle my toes, and my hands got weak, as well. Feet and legs are so important for dancing; so, this meant most of my dancing ability was gone.
I felt like part of my world was crashing.
Trying out for the competition team and taking dance classes I thought were over. I was worried my teachers would not let me dance. I was worried about getting made fun of. However, my dance teacher told me she would let me try different types of dance classes with my leg braces on to see what I could become adjusted to. I tried tap dancing and I remember falling to the floor and crying. My teacher picked me back up, handed me a tissue, let me take a breather.
I started monthly IVIG treatments, steroids, and physical therapy which were not fun. After trial and error, I was taking jazz and hip-hop classes; my friends were so supportive and accommodations were made for me when it came to certain moves.
Fast forward to college.
I wanted to continue my dancing when I was given the news that I was better at moving but needed my braces and sneakers to walk; my treatments were done my sophomore year of college.
There was a dance club that preached being inclusive which was not the case. No one would let me in their dances due to by disability and also the fact that many of them only took their friends in. The first dance that gave me hope was a reggae routine I did not plan on even trying out for; I was encouraged to try out despite my disability. I fell in love with the dance so much and I saw my potential to stick out from the crowd – even with my disability.
She mentioned my braces were not a big deal; I wish everyone else felt that way too.
I went to the worker who was in charge of student activities, as I was still frustrated that I was not able to be in more than one dance after numerous tryouts. She told me, “Well, why don’t you choreograph your own dances for the club?” and I did just that. I taught intermediate dance routines that needed a try out but I decided to teach a beginner dance class every semester that required no tryout; it was open to all students who were beginner dancers and for students with disabilities.
The first routine I taught to dancers was a hip-hop routine and the amount of “thank you’s” I received from the dancers were the most gracious “thank you’s” I ever got.
I will never forget the girl who told me that she felt included in the club. I got a flower from another dancer for being so kind to her. When a student in the dance club saw my potential in my braces, she came up to me and told me to try out for her jazz routine; she did not care that I was in braces and sneakers. I will remember this forever.
After college, I taught some routines in hip-hop and tumbling while also assisting teaching. After a bit, I took a break from teaching and took classes again which I loved. However, COVID-19 had things shut down, my illness relapsed, and I was no longer in remission. I started treatment in January 2020, again, with steroid use, and had no enthusiasm for online dance classes; I just loved in-person better, but I dance around in my house when I can.
My condition started to get a bit better again where my treatments stopped in January 2021.
I dreamed about making up dance routines all the time then it hit me; my passion is dance and opening up a dance studio for people with disabilities. I am not the dancer I used to be but I still do my best; I want to give individuals the opportunity to dance. I currently help individuals who feel sick do activities and I hope to incorporate my dancing into that. I still have the dancer in me, but I just need to bring it out in a different light.
Never EVER lose sight of your dream, even if obstacles stand in the way.
About the Author
Molly Rose lives in PA but is originally from NY. She wrote for Odyssey Online in 2017 and has now started her journey with Puckermob. Molly is getting her Master’s degree online in Human Services at Capella University. She is an advocate for individuals with disabilities. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.