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  • Writer's pictureKaterina

Abilities Not Changing My Dancing Heart

I'm a dancer.

Some say I was born to be a dancer. I like to think of this passion as a gift God blessed me with. A visual art that expresses beauty and grace. One that would reach those who are suffering or living with limitations. However, how I reached this realization is quite a story. I'm only briefing touching it today.

I started dancing at a young age. I still have these vivid memories of going to a ballet class and then continuing to practice the steps in the kitchen or living room. I couldn't help it. My young heart wanted to dance. I even put on recitals at home with my sisters or friends. And if I wasn't dancing, I was dreaming about choreography.

But, at thirteen, I started struggling with chronic fatigue. Most days, I barely made it out of bed long enough to get schoolwork accomplished. I tried going to my weekly ballet classes. But, during those months, I missed more often than I attended. I eventually had to stop for a while. And as someone who was a dancer, it hurt me just sitting there and watching my friends perform.

In the following year, my body healed enough so I could continue. Dance no longer felt the same. I faced the challenges of trying to regain strength. While my friends were progressing in their flexibility and moving up to more advanced levels, I wasn't. I didn't understand it at the time.

When I looked at myself in the mirror at the studio, I barely held it together. I thought more negatively about my dancing. Others had movements that seemed flawless. I felt weak. I felt discouraged. And if it wasn't for my determined nature (another gift from God), I probably would have quit.

Then it got better. Or so I thought. But, I faced a more difficult stumbling block, chronic pain. There were days when it felt like I was starting over. I had to adapt movement in each of the pieces and learn to not do them full out in order to conserve energy. As my body changed because of CMT, my dancing also changed. No longer was it just me comparing myself to others because of their natural ability. I was fighting to make it through each class with pain that progressed overnight.

At first it was only nerve pain in my feet. It feels like I'm walking on pins and needles. It causes a lot of discomfort as a dancer because I'm mostly on my feet. Then it led to a sharp and stabbing sensation throughout my legs and arms. Along with the shakiness in my muscles and some slight balance problems. Jumping feels impossible, and turning is not how it used to be. And more recently it has been the joint pain and the dizziness that has affected my movement.

But, I'm still dancing. I'm still creating pieces and teaching others to dance, no matter their physical ability. It's a beautiful purpose that God has bestowed on my life. It's something I didn't deserve.

Now, in my adult years, I've realized the blessing that no one dances the same. It's what makes us all beautiful and unique. Some are more expressive in their arms or gifted with flexibility. Some called to be an instructor and choreograph. And others to be only dancing for a season. But, all face challenges that may not always be as visible. I guess that's how we grow. It's how we persevere.

I'm a dancer. And I know I will always be a dancer even though my physical abilities are changing.

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