by Emily Zager
Dance encourages us to improve our bodies, tell a story, and embrace the energy in every moment. It can enable us to grow, encourage focus, and leave our own worlds behind as we take to the classroom floor or stage. Dance can universally improve quality of life for us, no matter our age, body type or level of technique.
As dancers, we are faced with our share of challenges that can hinder or threaten our growth in the industry as well as in ourselves. Sometimes, these instances are out of our control. However, these are the times it is most important to encourage our emotional and mental identities to reflect our physically strong and resilient selves.
In October 2009, I was a busy and energetic junior in college when I fell ill. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a disorder that causes inflammation within the small intestine and colon. Immediately, I wondered how this unpredictable condition would alter my daily activities, as well as affect my ability to dance. At the time, I was in the midst of obtaining my minor degree in dance, taking multiple classes and preparing for performances.
I was suddenly faced with an uncharted situation, but I refused to let my condition change me or my dancing. In those times of uncertainty, I turned to dance even more. I realized how important it was to embrace every movement fully in class and focus my thoughts on each moment. On stage, there was no time for doubt, and the joy of dance overcame any pain I felt.
In times of swift change and questions, dance was the perfect outlet to improve myself inside and out. Looking back on the past few years, I realize how fortunate I am, and it’s wonderful to feel the freedom and optimism that dance gives me. I graduated with my degree, took advantage of many opportunities, performed for crowds of thousands and have learned to take each day at a time.
Throughout life, we face questions, setbacks, injuries and detours. As my dancing career has developed, I have learned how important it is to keep an open mind and maintain a strong awareness with my body.
Has dance helped you get through a difficult time? We’d love to hear your story…
Contributor Emily Zager is a 24 year old dancer and account executive currently living in Milwaukee, WI. She graduated from Loyola University Chicago and has trained in dance for over 20 years (ballet to ballroom). Nothing brings her more joy than the art of performing. She thrives off connecting with the world around her, whether in a face-to-face conversation or through social media.
Besides dance, Emily’s favorite things include traveling, sports, and spending time with friends and family.