I WENT TO VEGAS BABBAYYYYYYYYYY!!!!
If you blinked your eyes, or got a bowl of cereal, you might have missed it. But I was there! haha
And it was awesome.
As challenging as it was on my health, and how far back it may have taken me in my lyme recovery, it was worth it to exercise my own sense of free will. To live in an extreme way FAR beyond what my body was truly capable of at the time. Miracles happened that week people. It was amazing.
The odds in Vegas are unlikely for everyone. Out of 100 stage dancers you had to make top ten. Yeah that's 10%. Crazy right? On top of that, over 50% of those dancers were contemporary just like me. Although they told us they weren't looking for a specific number of boys or girls, I knew the amount of females that could make Top Twenty would for sure have to be less than ten.
As brutal as it is, Vegas week is a week of making amazing friends. I cannot even tell you how blessed I feel to have been able to meet so many inspiring dancers. Not only did everyone there shine in this art form but as loving genuine people. A special thank you to Jim, Marissa, Caleb, Nov, Dre, Tristen, Cori, Ellie, Alexia, Hailee, De'Von, Brandon, Chaz, Dani, Little Boy, Alyssa, and SO many more. Every one of you has been a wonderful inspiration to me. What a privilege it is to know you all and to have danced with you all.
Day one began with solos and the most brutal cut. While it had been a month since LA, and I was able to take that month to train a bit more than I had in a couple of years... I was still feeling far behind. I was continuing treatment that made me unbearably sick while simultaneously trying to rack up hours at the studio. I could make it through one run of each of my solos before my lungs felt like they might explode. Breathing was labored and frustrating and I just couldn't get a handle on it. Watching the other dancers perform, I was both inspired and disheartened. The dance world has progressed over the past two and a half years to a level that I wasn't sure my tired body could rise to. So just before I went on stage I said the same prayer I had said back in LA. "Heavenly Father, you and I both know that I am not strong enough to do this today. Please fill in my weaknesses and allow me to do my best. If I get cut I understand, but help me to be proud of what I have done today and leave feeling happy." I got up on stage and played to the performance side of my piece. I worked to keep a constant connection, and more than anything have a good time telling the judges the fun story my piece told. Miraculously it worked, and I was sent through with a big smile on my face.
The next rounds progressed in a similar way. Except now sleep was becoming a limited resource, my energy was tanking, my muscles were throbbing and cramping, my migraines were growing with intensity, and my blood sugar was staying far below where it should be. OUCH! Still though, I said the same prayer and watched as the Lord supported me and uplifted me in such a way that I could embrace and enjoy this unique experience. He increased my strength so that I might, "bear up my burdens with ease." (let's look at ease as a fairly loose term though, shall we? haha)
The round I got cut in was pretty intense. We started choreographing our piece at 10:00 pm and finished at 3:00 am. We went to bed at 3:30 and woke up at 5:30 for rehearsal at 6:00. If this sounds like the dancing Zombie apocalypse to you...you're hitting the nail right on the head. If you ask your "local lymie" how much sleep they need they will probably tell you roughly ten hours at night with a three hour nap during the day. NOT TWO HOURS. Everyone was struggling, but then I added lyme disease and throw in the fact I am Mormon and don't drink coffee. Annnnd...
Even still, somehow we came out without it being too bad. Unfortunately the judges were underwhelmed and so I got nixed which was a bummer, but that's ok! I was so proud of myself for what I had done in spite of it all. All that was left was the Jazz round and then it was Green Mile, so go team!
In my exit interviews, I kept being asked what was next for me. "So what's waiting for you at home?" they would say. I was certainly proud of what my broken body had accomplished, but I couldn't shake the sinking feeling that came to me when asked these questions. Of course top 20 would be amazing, but everyone there knows that it is a long shot going into it. The truth is, what was challenging for me is what waited for me at home was an endless stream of doctors appointments and IV antibiotics. My days would be filled with shots and fifteen different prescription drugs at each meal. I was going home to my bed and migraines and pain and frustrations. On top of that I would be told that I could no longer dance while I was in treatment because my body couldn't repair itself fast enough to also fight the spirochetes in my blood. What was waiting for me was going to be a challenge.
Regardless, I left with even more assurance that my Father in Heaven loved me. Even with all of the millions of things he is looking out for each day, He heard my prayers and gave me an experience I was desperately needing. I know that He does this for each of us in ways we might not even realize. This very moment he is moving things around in your life for the absolute most optimal outcome.
So now here I am. Back at battling my beast day in and day out. Excited for the day when I will stand on a stage without being held back by illness. What I didn't realize the day I left Vegas week, that I am grateful to have found since being home, is that I had more than sickness waiting for me here. I had an army of loved ones ready to support me and to show me how lucky I really am to live the life I do.
I am so thankful for my opportunity to LIVE in a big way. And now I am ready to live in a way that is less exciting, but hopefully just as powerful. I am ready to hopefully overcome my illness.
"We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and with all our strength that God can give us. . . .That is our policy. You ask, What is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory—victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror; victory, however long and hard the road may be." [Churchill: the Life Triumphant,American Heritage, 1965, p. 90]
A giant congratulations to this years top twenty! Particularly to Marrissa, Alexia, Hailee, and Jim!
SO PROUD OF YOU GUYS!