Julia Confer

Pennsylvania

Story

At the age of 3 my mother signed me up for my first dance class. By the age of 6yrs I started competing and not knowing the emotional & physical challenges that I would face doing something that loved. 


One of the first challenges happened I when I was only 8. During my acro class practicing my aerial, I actually landed on my arm and the impact bent my elbow completely back breaking not only my elbow but also the humerus bone. After several months of recovery I was still able to dance & compete with a brace on my arm. And never ever having the ambition to take another acro class. By the end of that competition season(spring 2009) my studio had announced they were closing. That fall of 2009 I had found another studio that I still currently attend and proud to call my second home. They have encouraged me to go above and beyond. My first year there(2009/2010) nearing the end of competition season I was stricken with food poisoning that I had gotten from a church function. That lead me to lose about 20lbs and causing damage to my liver. The recovery was tough. I was so fatigued and weak. I still tried making it to make dance classes although I really physically couldn't dance. My liver took about 6 months to heal and another 12 months for the rest of me to completely recover. During the competition season I was able to participate in a few group dances, not really having my strength back to do more.


That following year my teachers had encouraged me to do my first solo and return to doing an acro class. I accepted that challenge knowing that I finally had the strength. That year I won many awards with that solo and went on to Nationals coming in 2nd over all. Over the next few years I have accomplished my back handspring, my aerial, several awards and really just becoming a happy well rounded dancer.


The fall of 2014 (I'm 14yrs old at the time) I started doing extra ballet classes at a small local ballet Co./studio and that year still competing with my current studio (dancing about 20hrs a week) I was able to do my first Nutcracker performance. During that dance season of 2014/2015 I started developing breathing issues to the point that it was affecting my dancing. After several tests, doctors told us that I have sports induced asthma. What?? All of a sudden I have asthma?? The last two competitions of that season I had asthma attacks where my face & arms turned blue. I could not go anywhere without my inhaler! All the while feeling burdened with this so called "sports induced asthma"(not that just being a teenager is challenging enough)I was having back problems & severe headaches. My back was always hurting, aching...Acro class was becoming harder & harder because of the pain. So, after my recital that year June 2015, the pain became a little unbearable. My mother took me to a chiropractor. He had taken some x-rays and talked to my mother about how he was concerned about my top 2 vertebrae's, asking if I ever had any neck pain. After seeing the x-rays I was diagnosed with scoliosis of the spine.. What? I had so many questions? Should I be dancing? Could I dance? Will I always be in pain? Maybe I was never meant to dance?? Here to find out that my breathing issues and turning blue were contributed to my spine pushing on my diaphragm and I wasn't able to get enough oxygen to do any physical activity, like dancing. With daily/weekly visits to the doctor, learning what exercises I have to do and realizing that this is something that I will have to deal with the rest of my life has been very physically and emotionally disturbing. This year I was really considering quitting dance altogether. I wasn't really up for dealing with this years challenge. I'm not going to be able to dance as much? Or will I? So, far this year I have had to use my inhaler only once. I have only one solo, not two, cut back on group dances, haven't taken any extra ballet classes, but added weekly yoga classes to my schedule. I'm still trying to find a balance without giving up what I love. And As I look back it's not winning awards or winning first place it's doing what you love and believing in yourself to be the best that you can be.

I love dance because it has helped me not just physically but emotionally deal with life challenges. It has taught me to never give-up and it has given me the confidence to always believe in myself.

They need to hear always believe in yourself! Be the best that you can be! AND never, never give-up!