The Dance of My Life

Picture by George at Asda for #WeAreMakingMoves 

2019 was an incredible year for me. For someone who has so many limitations from their condition, I finally felt like I was opening doors again. I received a phone call from my agent in December confirming that I had been booked for what’s probably going to be the most incredible job of my life. I was going to Miami, to film for ‘George’ at Asda. They were launching a new denim campaign called #WeAreMakingMoves and I was going to feature as an ambulatory wheelchair user.

Firstly, I had been booked as a disabled dancer, which is still huge in this industry. I have only just started doing small amounts of dancing for myself this year, after having to give up my dream of being a dancer over a decade ago, so it was a mixture of nerves, excitement and pressure. Of course, I always worry about my health and had no idea how I would cope with my first long haul flight, but as I do with everything, I can honestly say I gave 110%.

About a week before the trip, I became really ill with a respiratory condition. I’ve had pneumonia before so we were pretty concerned about how ill I was. I spent all week in bed and even on the day of travel, I went to see an emergency doctor who gave me a ‘fit to fly’. The travelling was a struggle; my anxiety was sky high because I was ill already (and I’m not the best traveller) but once we arrived in Miami I settled. It was a flying trip, 3 days, so I rested as much as I could.

Our first shoot was on a gorgeous rooftop and it was incredible dancing with such a talented cast. I had plenty of breaks, but spent more time on my feet than I should’ve. We went back to the hotel whilst the others went out for food & drinks and I slept until the next day. It’s hard, because I didn’t get the chance to ‘fit in’ and hang out with the cast & crew because my condition means I need to rest. However, this happens in everyday life, something I've learnt is a necessity and was just so grateful to be able to enjoy such a special day.

Day 2 was the one I was waiting for. They took me to Miami ballet school and I found it hard not to let my emotion take over. I’d had the morning resting and I was ready for filming, this time it was my solo. This was my dance. It was unprepared improvisation, so I chose a Billie Eillish song and danced my heart out. I danced for 2 minutes, full out for the first time in about 11 years. When I finished, I turned around to the crew who were in tears and I just completely lost it. It was incredibly emotional. I was so proud, so tired and just wished I could do it all again. I had some more filming to do but needed a break so went to lie down, and that’s when it went downhill.

I started feeling unwell and alerted my mum that I really was getting poorly. I tried to get up to go to the bathroom but collapsed on the floor and from there my throat started closing. What I’d done, is pushed myself too far. I had an anaphylactic reaction and it scared everyone. I didn’t do anymore filming, the crew were great and I flew home the next evening.

Once I was home, that was the hard bit. I have never felt like I have let anyone down that much. The hardest part was because I put my absolute everything into this, it was my time to do the disabled dance community proud, but frustratingly my body had other ideas. I’m still going to be teaching. I’m still going to dance too, without a doubt. I'm focusing on very slowly building up my strength again, not pushing myself to that extreme and using my chair a lot more wisely. But yes, when you see the advert and socials, know that every single piece of me went into that. And I have absolutely no regrets. 

Kate x

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