Untapped Dancer Story: An Incurable Disorder

Jae Elizabeth Hinton

Ellisville • Mississippi

I woke up in an ambulance with paramedics all around me and the first thing that I noticed, my dance family all standing outside of the ambulance praying for me.

Two weeks after my 15th birthday I passed out for the first time. Little did I know this would be the beginning of a new life journey for me. A journey where some days my body would just physically give up. I would hit the ground unable to move, speak, or even breathe properly and on April 6, 2013 I was pronounced dead at a regional dance competition after passing out during my solo performance.

I have been dancing since the age of 4 and started competing when I was 10. Dance has always been the biggest part of my life. At the age of 17 after 2 years of searching for the answer, I was finally diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome a rare and incurable disorder. Dance was my one get away from all the doctor appointments, medical testing, and stress of living with an unknown disorder. There were some days that my body wouldn't let me do a double turn or leap across the floor, yet I always would turn to dance during the darkest and hardest times of my life. It was the one thing that I could voluntarily agree to. The one thing that would keep me sane. The one thing that would let me express who I am, and not my medical charts. My favorite part of dance... my dance family. The girls at the studio never saw me as the "sick kid", but they saw me as a person, an artist, and a dancer.

Some of my favorite memories while learning to deal with my "peculiarity" where with my dance family at the studio, a recital, or a competition. During one winter recital that I wasn't feeling my best, my team decided that *if I were to pass out on stage, they would "pass out" with me by all laying down on the stage (since I hated to draw attention to my disorder). There were days in the studio where I could only sit and watch because I didn't have enough strength to stand and my dance family would always ask me to critique them on their technique and facial expressions to make sure I still felt involved in the choreography. The one memory that is the most vivid to me.... the day I was pronounced dead. I woke up in an ambulance with paramedics all around me and the first thing that I noticed, my dance family all standing outside of the ambulance praying for me.

I am so thankful for the art of dance and my fellow dancers and teachers for always pushing me to fight a little harder.

Dance truly is my passion. My escape. And as dancers we are, One Family.