Megan Reifsteck

Tolono • Illinois

Story

Dance is part of my family. My Grandma was a dancer, my mother, and 2 of my older cousins all danced. When I was 7-years-old, I asked (begged) my parents to sign me up for dance classes. I was part of my studio for about 7 years. When I was in 8th grade, I suffered stress fractures in both of my ankles. The doctor said that if I wanted to continue to dance, I had to take a year off to heal. That was an awful year, let me tell you! I wanted nothing more than to dance. Finally, I was released to dance again. I auditioned for my high school's dance team, and made it. I danced on my high school team for all 4 years, becoming captain my senior year. My junior and senior year, I competed a solo and made it all the way to the state finals both years. Dance was what I did, and when I felt the most alive. I could not imagine my life without it. I went to college, and continued to dance. My freshman year of college, I started to experience some back pain. I ignored it and kept pushing through. My sophomore year, I pinched a nerve while dancing and could not move my left leg for hours. It was terrifying. I went to the doctor, and received awful news. I was diagnosed with scoliosis. I begged him to let me finish out the season, and to go out with a bang at UDA nationals. He agreed, but told me that it would not be wise to continue to dance at such a high level. The first year after my final season as a competitive dancer, I lost my grandma and my uncle. It was an awful year, and to not be able to express myself through my dancing made everything worse. I wasn't sure how to express myself or how to get my emotions out. I started going back to my high school to help their current coach in her first season. I helped the next year as well, and it was nice. It was a new feeling, of helping other young dancers become better and stronger and more confident. The following year, I became an official coach for the junior high dance team, where I still am three years later. I miss dancing, but coaching is a way that I am able to help others. I am expressing myself through them, and it is a wonderful feeling. Dance is so powerful. It is a way of life. It is something that will always be apart of me.