I have been dancing since I was three years old! Whether I was tapping in a recital, dancing to a live band I happened to come upon at the park, or Swing Dancing at a club I was always dancing.
I am one of those people who has Dancing in my blood if you were to analyze my DNA you would find, in me, the D stands for Dance. Dance for me is everything. Dance is the remedy for a bad mood, cure for the common cold, a silver lining in bad news. Dance seemed to make the world a better place to live. I lived to Dance and Danced to live. I even met my husband while dancing (I couldn’t have married a man who didn’t dance). When we got married we had a huge dancefloor and a live DJ – I had a spate skirt made at swing length for my wedding dress just or the reception – the dancing at the reception. Needless to say. Dancing is huge and much-loved part of my life. There was no doubting it, my truest passion in life is dancing. As an adult When there wasn't a class for me to take (being an adult dancer it is sometimes hard to find a class) I started teaching just so I could dance. I ended up falling in love with teaching my passion. Teaching enhanced my love for dance and it later became my career. I am one of those people who has never had to “work” because I loved what I do so much. I was excited to possibly go back to school and get a BFA in dance. I was excited to teach our son to dance. I was excited to get back in the Ballet studio and become a better Ballet dancer. Even though I was teaching, I was still looking for an adult tap class to keep my skills up. I was totally excited to continue on my path to be a better, stronger and smarter dancer I was going to dance until the day I died.
I am a Christian, so devoted to God. I thanked him every day for my gift, this brilliant talent he had given me and the wonderful life he had blessed me with being able to share this gift. I learned that we are supposed to take our talents and use them and share them with the world and I was doing that as best I could and loving every minute of it.
When I got pregnant with our son my body became stiff and everything form dancing to even walking became painful, I thought it was just part of being pregnant. After he is born, through emergency C-section my body still ached and I chalked it up to all my body had just been through. A year later still dealing with body stiffness, pain and weakness I began to worry a little but I figured it is probably just all that time being sedentary with my infant son and I simply had to work harder to get back into shape. It was now two years since my son was born and I wasn’t feeling any better. My body was sore and stiff and I had lost much of my dance ability. My muscles had become weak and I didn’t know why and no matter how hard I worked the strength was not coming back. This was really confusing to me because I had times when I lost some muscle tone but I was always able to get it back quickly and I was so focused on becoming a strong powerful dancer. I was getting concerned so I finally went to the Dr. Three specialists and a battery of tests later it was discovered, I had a genetic disease called Myotonic Dystrophy; and I was devastated.
I learned that the muscle I had lost is gone forever and I could not rebuild it. They told me that this is a progressive disease and that as time went on, things will get worse. There is no cure for any form muscular dystrophy. The Doctors do all they can to treat the symptoms but the treatments are very limited. I was born with this disease even though it only became evident when I became a 30-year-old adult. The difficulties I had during my delivery were all related to this disease - that we didn’t even know I had. Learning more and more my husband and I determined it is far too risky for us to try and have another child on our own; that is broken heart #1. Because this is genetic and we didn’t know I had it my son has a 50% chance of having this disease; that is broken heart #2. Even though I can dance with a lesser ability today, I will probably at some point lose the ability to dance all together; and that, is broken heart #3. Dance is my cure-all and now it is being stolen from me one muscle at a time – what am I supposed to do now?
I fell into deep self-pity. Why me? Why did this have to happen to a dancer instead of a sedentary person? Why did God – who I danced for, who gave me this talent, allow it to be taken away? Why could he let me get a disease that crushed my dreams and the things that were really important in my life, my passion, my expression, my art, my release, my income, my everything! Why was I even still alive if I do not have the ability to do what I was put on this planet to do? There is one thing my MDA Dr. told me that is good news, the longer I dance, the longer I will be able to dance.
I still am not sure what my purpose here is if it is being shifted from teaching dance I hope it is revealed to me soon. It is strange but I think the thought that dance may not be possible one day has only made my passion and love for it grow stronger. To me, there is nothing in the world more brilliant than dancing; words fail to explain the way it makes the dancer feel. You’ve seen those times on TV where the audience is touched to tears by what the dancer has done – imagine how that dancer feels living the story instead of just watching it. That is how powerful dance is. Dance has allowed me to be the me I want to be, the real me, the beautiful me, the fun and happy me. So now, where do I find her, the real me, if I can’t dance? Who am I without dance, without her? Who am I now?
During that time, I was struggling so much but I pushed forward. No matter what life hands me if nothing else, I’m stubborn I'll show life that I can do it my way. I started a local support group, got involved with others with DM online and made friends. I made connections and for the first time in 2013 I attend the MDF conference, it changed my life. I am so glad now that I feel the same passion and desire to advocate for this disease is just as I once felt for dance. God has finally revealed his plan for me - I think!
Then, March 6, 2014 I stopped teaching and gave my studio to My principal Teacher Miss Jazmin Frantz.
September 2017 (The Revelation)
I was attending the MDF conference in San Francisco, CA. For the first time, I was there with my mom and dad and, for the first time I was going to teach Chair tap as part of programming. I was ready and well prepared I had been teaching the class now for several years I taught my last few years in Texas and had been teaching locally for a year and a half. I began my class, ran the class people crowded the small dancefloor but I LOVED the high attendance. We had a blast. My mom and dad took lots of pictures and videos, as did many friends we had fun.
My dad said, to my mom as I was teaching “She should get out of politics and just do this.” Now I am very politically active and have no desire to slow down but he was right. For that 45 minutes teaching, I was in my element, I was blissful, I was doing what God had intended all along. This is my calling.
So finally. After 7 years of struggling trying to find my new purpose God revealed it to me clearer than ever, my purpose never changed, I’m still meant to be a dance teacher. Today I just need to teach a different kind of dance, chair ,dance for people who. like me, struggle to do it on their feet.
So that is my story and why I’ve created AIM. Some people dance on their feet, we dance in a seat.