As a young dancer, I was dancing up to eight hours a day. I was determined and hardworking—fully dedicated to an art I loved.
The only problem? I had pain in my hip that was preventing me from lifting my left leg into a full extension. The pain became stiffness that gave me a limp when I walked, and the stiffness turned into loss of feeling in that leg. That was just the first in a series of injuries that forced me to take time off from dancing.
I decided to take math, physics, and anatomy classes at nearby colleges in those non-dancing stretches as a backup plan in case I didn’t recover. Sometimes I danced through the injuries—like when I stress-fractured my ankle and still finished a Nutcracker season, or when I tore my rotator cuff performing in Prague and went right back into rehearsals. I wasn't proud of it, but I loved dancing so much that I didn't feel like I had a choice.
It wasn't that I was neglecting my body, either, or ignoring pain. I went to doctors and physical therapists and did their exercises, but nothing helped. The surgeries they recommended seemed extreme and misdirected. The exercises were not truly addressing the issues, and doctor after doctor gave me apologetic looks but no solutions.