Her chronic ear infections and other health issues continued non-stop up to ten years old. Most medical treatments offered little relief. Although the issues greatly affected her equilibrium, she rarely felt those issues in dance with the exception of turns.
“Doctors would tell my mom that I shouldn’t be able to dance, so my mom began taking videos of me dancing, which left doctors speechless,” Addison explained. “I believe dance — and especially ballet — was providing me with a form of physical/occupational therapy and helping to offset the issues my ears had created. Dance gave me something to focus on and excel at instead of focusing on health.”
She was a growing dancer, winning with her solos at competitions and starting to train for a Youth American Grand Prix solo when she was hit with a new illness that took over her life for more than two years. Her resilience would be tested even more.
She was often too weak to get out of bed; the pain debilitating.
The dance studio was traded in for the doctor’s office and the Children’s Hospital. It seemed as though every week involved a new doctor, constant blood tests and trying new medicines. The X-rays, scans, and tests left them with no answers as new symptoms continued to surface.
She often thought dance was over for her, and worried she wouldn't be able to catch back up once they found a way to make her feel better. She returned to the dance team in the sixth grade and slowly became stronger.
Last year, in the seventh grade, she decided to focus mostly on her dance training and increased her dance hours to 25 to 30 hours per week.
As an eighth grader this year, Addison is still making up for lost time, but she feels strong and healthy.
“I am super blessed to be in the inaugural class of the Joffrey Ballet Trainee program in Dallas, Texas,” she says.
The newly launched location runs just like the Joffrey program in New York. Joffrey Ballet flies in many teachers from New York to work with the students weekly, including Artistic Director, Era Jouravlev.
“I train all day long while my friends attend school, and then I do school in the evenings online,” she says. “I am one of the younger dancers in the program and feel fortunate to have beautiful older dancers to learn from.”
Role models have been especially influential in Addison's journey. Last spring she was able to spend time with Samantha Figgins, an Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancer who also has hearing loss. She spent over an hour and a half after a long night on stage to share her experience with Addison.
One of Addison's Joffrey teachers is Taylor Greer, a Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blues dancer, who is deaf and has cochlear implants. “Both of these people showed me that how I ‘hear’ doesn't define me or my future, but that I am in control by choosing to believe in myself,” tells Addison.
Although she has challenges with balance and ‘proprioception’ — meaning she doesn’t feel her body in space like others — Addison says both things were never a roadblock to her. She detoured when necessary.
Two years ago she was given a new opportunity when she became an Ambassador for ‘Brown Girls Do Ballet.’
Young girls who followed ‘Brown Girls Do Ballet’ were looking up to her, which gave her the "...opportunity and honor to give back to the community and show them we can dream and reach those dreams."
Addison has many goals. Among them are finding a way to raise funds for kids who need help with their hearing disability. Sometimes at school, Addison uses a system called an FM System.
“I wear a Bluetooth hearing aid and a microphone is worn by the speaker. It allows me to hear them better. Many kids like me could benefit from this, but for most of us, our insurance won't pay for the system. This is also true for hearing aids. I would really like hearing aids but they cost too much and insurance won't cover the cost.”
She expressed that an amount of money that is small to some, about $2,000, could allow a child to hear his/her teacher clearer.
“I would love it if my journey and purpose with dance could also build hope and find ways to secure funds to make it easier for kids to be able to simply hear, which is something most people take for granted,” she says.
Addison takes very little for granted, including the balance, success, and impact she has been able to experience in dance and life. She has been able to find her center and stay there — despite all odds.
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