Untapped Dancer Story: The Seeds My Mom Sewed

Jennifer Gordan

Franklinville • New Jersey

Through every challenge, dark day, health problem, or mental breakdown ballet has been there.

I've fought a battle my entire life and have had ballet by my side. When it comes to genetic conditions, I take the cake. I was born with many eye problems and I had cataract surgery at 2 weeks old. It left me legally blind in my right eye and left me with no depth perception. I faced years of bullying because of my eyes looking different. When I was 5, I was diagnosed with Ehler's Danlos Syndrome. This causes my joints to dislocate and affects my internal organs as well. My mom put me in ballet and suddenly I had strength. My mom sewed for the ballet company and in return I could train. My joints held together and I was thriving. Something was still "off" with me though. I began dancing professionally but danced through bouts of numb legs and poor body control. After the birth of my first daughter, my life began to fall apart. I had memory loss, migraines, vertigo, speech impairment, brain fog, heart issues, poor temperature control, and much much more. I was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation and underwent brain surgery in February of 2015 to decompress my brain. 3 areas of my brain were not receiving fluid. I fought chemical menegitis for 2 months following surgery. I delivered my second daughter in January 2016 via c-section.

Through every challenge, dark day, health problem, or mental breakdown ballet has been there. Even when my body made it hard to move, ballet taught me to not make excuses and I fought through it. Ballet has kept me strong. It has given me the chance to release all of my emotions and the chance to use my experience to help people like me. Because of ballet, I have been able to bounce back through all of these things that should have stopped me. I am back to performing, teaching, choreographing, raising my children, helping my husband, and enjoying life because ballet gave me the strength and taught me so much. Humility, endurance, perseverance, grace, understanding, strength, control, and drive are only a few of the gifts it has given me. I have ballet because of my mom. I am grateful for her gift to sew. Because of that I have had ballet as my life long battle buddy.