Despite being born with discoid meniscus, a wedge-shaped piece of cartilage that sits in between the bones of the knee, Abigail landed her dream role as Clara with The Ballet Academy of Moses Lake. Over the years, she also grew as a competitive dancer and began assisting with dance lessons for the younger dancers at her studio.
Just one week before Nationals, her meniscus started to dislocate.
"I had to sit out of two dances and reverse a solo fifteen minutes prior to performing to compensate the injury," she said. "I was lucky to have the support of my family, teachers, teammates and my surgeon to help me get through this year."
Last September, Abigail had surgery to correct the birth defect and has had two other surgeries since. She remains positive and looks forward to completing physical therapy and returning to dance. She keeps her hopes up and relies on the special bonds created through dance.
"Even though I can’t dance right now, just being at the studio with my teammates that I’ve created such a wonderful bond with is the perfect remedy to a bad day," she said.
Abigail's ability to persevere has only grown stronger.
"Sometimes it can be hard to apply corrections, or it can be hard to consistently stick with a goal when it seems like there’s no improvement," she said. "Dance has taught me that it’s always worth it in the end to stick with the plan and keep moving forward."
Anne has been dancing since the age of 10. She's previously trained at The Rock School for Dance Education and the Columbia Ballet School. This year, she's dancing professionally with Eglevsky Ballet where she is about to begin rehearsals for the Nutcracker.
Dance has provided Anne with a lot of unique opportunities, including worldly travels. Some of her best friends are from other countries. She loves the unique, focused goals that dance provides.
"Each rehearsal is a new experience and process and is one in which you learn even more about yourself and break new barriers," she said.
She advises others to embrace your individuality in dance.
"Be the best possible YOU that you can be. And I mean YOU. You can't be anyone else when you dance -- it's impossible," Anne said. "Dance is about being unapologetically you and working hard on that every day."
The thing she loves most about dance is the ability to inspire others.
"It can come from anything -- doing a step well, working hard, or being kind while still trying your best," she said. "Dance is art, and art has the power to change and influence the world."
Elinor worked hard and challenged herself to stay focused in rehearsals. When it came time to compete her solo she was very nervous but she recalled how confident her teachers were in her and checked in backstage. They called her number and she went on stage to the sound of her friends cheering her on. Throughout the whole dance, she was channeling what her teachers fine tuned during her rehearsals.
"After I finished, I was so happy that I did my best," Elinor said.
Through dance, she's learned to be a good sport and to celebrate those around her. She understands that, ultimately, doing her best is the goal. She's learned not to focus on scoring or placement and more on her personal growth. She's learned how to commit to her own goals and achieve them.
"Dance brings me so much joy and makes feel like I can accomplish anything I put my mind to," Elinor said.
As a full-time student at The Hammond School, Ella does all of her academic studies there, as well as dance and other vocational classes in drama and voice for about 20 hours a week.
"We have to go to school on Saturdays too, but I love it," Ella said.
Ella misses her family, but she's seeing through on her dream to become a professional dancer and performer.
"I only get to see my family for a weekend or school holiday every three weeks, but the girls I share a boarding house with have become like sisters and we have so much fun," Ella said. "Its like having a second family."
Ella also loves to sing and act and hopes to work in musical theatre one day.
Through injuries, she's learned first-hand that "good comes from adversity." Although she had to miss dance classes, she learned a lot about her body as an instrument and how to take proper care of her muscles and soft tissues without putting undue stress on them.
This year, she was chosen to become an Ambassador for Grishko. "I have worn Grishko pointe shoes since I started pointe work at the age of 10 and I totally love them so it is a massive honour to be chosen to represent such an incredible brand that I love," Ella said.
Ella is continuing to grow and learn in a unique setting that suits her and her goals. And with dance being such an integral part of her education, she's all ears.
"When a teacher offers you a correction, you should take it as a compliment because it means that they believe that you can improve and be better than you were," Ella said.
Since the age of five, Kylee has watched in awe as Chloe and Maud Arnold's tap company team performed. Now, she gets to train with them.
"[During training sessions] We tap for 5 hours and I still am excited to go back every time," she said.
Kylee also loves hip hop and recently auditioned for a hip hop crew that she will train and perform with in the upcoming dance season. She's learning to mix tap and hip hop and combine her two favorite styles of dance.
Through dance, she's been signed with talent agents, danced with some amazing tappers and met many amazing teachers and friends.
"The biggest lesson dance has taught me is to be humble and grateful," Kylee said. "Being a young competitive dancer, as well as being competitive at heart, it was a struggle the first time I did not place. I learned I had to go back to the roots and practice everything. Even basic techniques."
"Dance has given me self confidence and countless opportunities," Ryan said. By training with mostly females, he's also learned how to better relate to them and to treat them with kindness and respect.
Ryan was signed with the Movement Talent Agency (MTA) in Los Angeles. Through his MTA agents, he's booked several commercials as a dancer. He was also recently signed with Clear Talent Group in New York City.
Recently, he went on ABC's 'The Gong Show,' where he performed a tap routine with four other dancers.
Dance has also allowed him to help others. Ryan took part in an anti-bullying campaign as a Mini Muse dancer for MusEffect. They partnered with an app called 'Sit With Us,' which helps students who have difficulty finding a place to sit for lunch to locate a welcoming group in the lunchroom.
"I have been able to focus on the positive opportunities as well as stay away from the negative social aspects of teenage years," Ryan said.
Dance has allowed Ryan to focus on himself while constantly learning from those around him.
" I have learned that everyone develops at different rates. By being your own dancer and dancing for yourself has allowed me to grow so much as a dancer," Ryan said. "I have allowed myself to look at other dancers and truly learn from them as opposed to trying to be better than them."
She also recently became a Showstopper All-Star, and was invited to perform the opening number in Showstopper Nationals. Although a broken foot kept her from the performance, she is grateful to have been offered a part.
One of her favorite dance experiences was performing on a stage in Downtown Disney in Orlando. She is also grateful to dance with her best friend and duet partner, Faith (@edc_dancer12). Their duo went undefeated in the 2016-2017 dance season.
"We get stronger every year," she said.
Through dance, Ryleigh has been able to represent several dance-related companies and organizations, including Project InstaKind which promotes: "Be the light that inspires others. Use social media to impact people, not impress people."
Ryleigh has found strength in believing in herself.
"As long as I know I did the best I could do and I feel good walking off stage then my score does not affect me," she said.
Emma's hard work and dedication to dance earned her the title of Dance Works' 'Dancer of the Year' Award for her studio's 2016/2017 dance season and she considers this her greatest dance accomplishment to date.
At The Dance Awards in Orlando earlier this month, she landed a spot as a Top 21 Mini Female Best Dancer. Yet she still chooses to see herself as part of a bigger puzzle.
"Each dancer may be great on their own, but we are all an important piece to the team," Ayla said. "Without each of us something is missing, but together we make up something great and we are unstoppable."
Her love of dance has led to many unexpected opportunities. After a recent audition in New York City, she was signed to Clear Talent Group. She was also featured in the book, 'Dance Across the USA,' by Jonathan Givens, which features dancers in National Parks in every state in the U.S. Ayla also had the opportunity to model a special line of dance wear by Julian Peeples called LeAnaree Clothing.
Now, Ayla can't imagine her life without dance and she looks forward to what the future holds.
"Dancing is where my heart is," she said.
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