Hey guys. So during a Tittersation (is that a real word?) I was asked by Affinity Biotech how hemophilia affects my dancing after commenting on a link to this video, and I thought, "PERFECT BLOG POST!" But before I write my story I want to let you know that I do not consider myself a "dancer dancer." I consider myself an Actor/Singer/Dancer. There are people out there who make a living out there dancing, and I am not one of them. What I am is a performer who can also dance and that movement ability has helped me book jobs, but is not my main focus. Okay. That being said....
My mother is a dance teacher, so I have grown up around dancing since I was a wee tyke, and much like the shoemaker's kids who go with holes in their soles, I may have "danced," but never really trained heavily.
Age 2 at my very first dance recital. I had the whole world in my hands!
I would sometimes take class as I got older, but since I was the only boy at the studio for a while I would usually just learn choreography for certain performances. I have to say I love(d) to dance and still do today.
When I ended up going to Penn State, I really started to realize how intense dance training could affect my bleeding disorder. I distinctly remember my first day of beginner ballet. There I am, looking so Ballet-Chic in my black tights and white t-shirt, my dance belt riding up like no other, and I went to my dance instructor to inform her of my "situation." She very politely told me that I should just be as careful as possible and that until she looked into this further I should be aware that my status of staying in the program was in jeopardy. (Side note: Once Spence and my other professors understood Hemophilia more thoroughly I was told everything was fine). But it was at this moment that I was like, oh. Maybe I CAN'T do this. I had always believed that I could.
Throughout college, taking hours of dance a day which consisted of ballet, tap, jazz, and musical theatre styles, I would find that I would have random bleeds, especially in my target joints, my hips and ankles.
Even though I was told my status was safe, I didn't believe them, so off I would go to class, instant ice pack in tow, and wince my way through class without saying a word.
Now, I have to say I do use the excuse of my bleeding disorder as a reason for not being a better dancer. And if I was a LITTLE less
lazy I could be doing Yoga and Pilates to help my flexibility (Hey! My past readers know I will call myself out when I am in the wrong), but it is really discouraging when you've been working really hard and gaining some progress, and then get injured, pretty badly.
It was my junior year of college and I was in my musical theatre styles class, and for the first time I really felt like I could compete with the "dancers" in my class, and we were working on the opening combination to A Chorus Line. I wish I had a video to show you, but I'm sure you can find SOMEONE doing original choreo for A Chorus Line SOMEWHERE on YouTube (just don't watch the movie choreo. It was different and horrible). Anyway, I was dancing my little heart out and I kicked my right leg up, and I just felt it. Searing pain run through my right hip. But, as I had been doing for about 3 years by this point, I grinned and pressed on. I actually took the bus back to my dorm that day, I remember. Anywho, when I got to my room I could barely move my hip. It had gotten that bad, so I called my hematologists and of course they said treat RIGHT away. So I did (this is when I was infusing more often so I DID feel comfortable self-infusing), but ended up in bed for about two weeks, and when I started dancing again, it was like I had never danced before and I was so disheartened.
Of course I kept dancing, continued to take class, and have been fortunate enough to book performing work, and yes, some that requires dancing. And you better believe that when I had twisted my ankle during a show of Naked Boys, that I kept going, wrapped it, infused, and was ready for my next show! But in the back of my mind I always wonder how GREAT I could have become if bleeding episodes hadn't gotten in my way. But I am not complaining. I am active. I am performing, and I am loving my life right now.
Photo Credit: Wire Images. A photo taken during the 3,000 performance of Naked Boys Singing!
So this post was not meant to be a sad story, or an uplifting story. Just a story; a small part of my story. What I get out of my past as a dancer is that it has made me a better performer and a more well rounded person. I enjoy teaching the art of dance, because although I may not be able to kick my face, I know how to explain to other people how THEY should. Any physical activity is risky. You can hurt yourself swimming, or running, or even playing golf, but why put yourself at MORE risk by doing a more contact heavy sport? I'm not saying don't try it, or quit, I'm just saying that I think it is wise to make smart decisions when choosing what physical activity to undertake.
Yes. We strive to let every individual with a bleeding disorder live a normal life, but I cannot stress enough that even while treating prophylacticly (is that a word) breakthrough bleeds occur. Smart choices are just that. Smart. And hope everyone out there is making them. I know sometimes I haven't...
Till we meet again...