Svetlana Zakharova

My mother sent me away to train when I was ten years old to Kiev Ballet School, but I had to leave soon because of my dad’s new assignment in the army and we moved to East-Germany. When the Soviet Union collapsed, we returned home and I went back to school. I was 13 or 14 years old when realised that I wanted to a ballerina. My mother dreamt of becoming a ballerina, but couldn’t, and all her life she regretted it. It took me years to get used to ballet.

"My child's body was not ready to handle such loads, and the legs that were used to walk upright had to be twisted and the back always had to be held straight. It was a huge strain and I did not have the strength." I would often find myself crying because of my hectic exam and rehearsal schedule. I used to practice every day and sometimes, even up to 8 hours. I did not miss a single class irrespective of the fact that I was ill or had pain in some part of my body. I wanted to learn everything and miss nothing. It never felt like I was sacrificing anything, not even as a child.

Before the performance, I try not to talk to anyone so that I can contain my emotions. “When I’m waiting to perform, I cannot describe my feelings; I feel courage on one hand and wild nervousness on the other.”When I’m rehearsing, I feel like a pupil and not a ballerina, but for some reason when I get out on stage I feel completely opposite. This transformation is quite unique. Something from within takes place and you understand sometimes that human abilities are limitless.


Alissa Sizemore

I was playing with my friends in my yard when I ran out into the street and a truck ran over my foot. My parents rushed me to the hospital, but the doctors couldn’t save my severed foot and had to amputate below the knee. “Dancing has been my favourite thing since I was 4. I don’t have part of my leg, but I can’t let that stop me. ” I resumed dancing again in secret and tried for my dance team again. I didn’t want to wait for my prosthetic leg. My insurance did not cover the full costs of my new limb, so the people of Vernal rallied around to help my parents raise funds.

I became fascinated by dance and the music gave me a way to express myself. By the time I was 15; I was selected by the China Disabled People’s Performing art troupe as a dancer and began training to become a professional. I always wanted to own a pair of white dance shoes, but we didn’t have enough money. My mother quit her job to take me around to seek medical help and advice which meant complete dependence on my father’s income of 50 Yuan. He loved me dearly and satisfied my wish on my birthday and bought me a pair of dance shoes. “I held the white dance shoes fearing they might get soiled on the floor, and so I danced on the bed with happy tears flowing in my heart.” I always made sure that I practiced dance every single day which often left me bruised and in pain, but I was determined not to let that stop me. I wore trousers even in summers to hide the scars from my mother and I was able to do so for quite some time. Then, one day she discovered those scars and cried while hugging my tight.

I never gave up dancing and I want people to know that there’s no disability greater than one’s desire and longing of fulfilling his dreams. I have performed globally and have always been warmly welcomed. I understand that I wouldn’t have been able to achieve my dreams if it weren’t for those who gave me the opportunity to bring my talent in front of the world.

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Jade Chywnoth

I started dancing when I was 2 years old at my aunt’s dance studio where I took ballet and jazz classes. It was my mother who got me interested in dance because she was a dance teacher at the same studio. I enjoyed dancing, but I was 9 years old when I decided that I wanted to become a professional and that’s when I trained more seriously and vigorously. It wasn’t easy because I had to go to school first and join dance classes later which often meant staying back late and finishing my homework after classes. I was chosen to be an Elite Protégé with The Pulse on Tour for the 2010-2011 seasons and I later performed as a member of E-Kidz and I later joined immaBEAST dance crew. I always liked the hard-hitting, grungy kind of dance which made it fun for me to be a part of.

It’s not easy to be selected as the protégé because the teachers look for people who connect with various dance forms, but can still retain their style. It was a new experience for me and opened my eyes to a world of new possibilities. “I've learned more about being a better dancer and understanding the dance, and my body and my moves. I think along the way I've also learned leadership and how to be a better person.”

Since I’m the youngest dancer in my group, I try and learn new things from my seniors and I try to dance like a mature person now and understand the moves. Being the youngest has its disadvantages too; people sometimes did not take me seriously but I’ve always been determined to prove myself as a dancer. “If I could give out one advice, it would be that one should try and be themselves on stage and have fun, get style, and take little pieces form everyone that you see. You can't be someone else. You have to just learn from them.”


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Adriana Haslet Davis
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