Determination and adaptation to the curvature of her spine have allowed her to kept dancing, according to famed ballerina Paige Fraser. “Scoliosis has not stopped me once,” she said. At Colorado Back and Spine in Littleton, we encourage patients not to let scoliosis define them, and we can often make changes that will allow them to continue to do the things they love.
Fraser has been dancing for more than twenty years, even though she was diagnosed with scoliosis in high school. Doctors cautioned that the curvature in her spine required surgery and could mean the end of her dancing career. But after 13 years, she’s still dancing.
Fraser says people with severe spinal curvatures that create other serious health problems should have surgery, but she tried an alternate path that included chiropractic adjustments and spine manipulations. She also wore a back brace for many years and learned to adapt to her challenges.
Our own Dr. Anant Kumar at Colorado Back and Spine always emphasizes a multidisciplinary approach with a focus on non-operative care and minimally invasive approaches when possible. He only considers surgery if all other options have failed. He evaluates each client on a case by case basis, and he chooses the optimal solution for the treatment of his patients.
According to an article from Street Roots, Fraser focuses on her strengths. “There are limitations I had and still have today,” Fraser said. “My center of gravity may be off, I may not feel as strong, or my back may be a little sore, but these are all things that every dancer experiences. That’s why I’m grateful that I didn’t get the surgery. It would have ended my career before it started. I was lucky because one of my teachers in high school had the same condition. She was able to give me a lot of one-on-one coaching and help me find different ways to understand my body.”
Fraser danced in college, at the Dominican University of California in Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet BFA program and at Fordham University and the Ailey II School. Fraser found a job with Visceral Dance in Chicago.
In the article, she says “I never let scoliosis hold me back like I was ‘disabled.’ After I was diagnosed, I found ways to make it work. If choreographers or teachers came to work with us, my diagnosis was never something that held me back. If there was tricky choreography that scared me, I still would try it in the back of the room.”
Her teachers, family, and friends, including Nick Pupillo, director of Visceral Dance Chicago, have supported and encouraged her dream of dancing.
“My director is big on each of us being individuals,” she said. “None of us look the same, and he loves that. We were all from different places. We are dancers who are unique, and we have different traits and different personalities. We bring another sense of diversity to Chicago. Someone in the audience can connect with at least one of us.”
This is her third season at Visceral and when she’s not dancing, she’s teaching and encouraging other dancers to not let their fears or challenges stop them.
“It boils down to believing in yourself even when it’s difficult,” she said. “It takes time; it takes preparation, and it takes hard work. I want my story to inspire and empower other women, other women of color, other dancers, and other dancers with disabilities. You don’t have to stop dancing.”
Although some scoliosis cases require surgery, our doctor at Colorado Back and Spine in Littleton tries all other options before surgery. We love to hear success stories like the determination of famed ballerina Paige Fraser, “Scoliosis has not stopped me once.” For help and an evaluation of your scoliosis case, please contact us. We’ll do our best to ensure your own success story.