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Dancing Through Hardship: Ana’s Story

Dancing has helped many of us through difficult times in our lives, giving us strength, freedom of expression, and a chance to replenish ourselves mentally and spiritually. For some, it’s even more: a lifeline that keeps us connected and moving forward, through seemingly insurmountable odds. Analuisa, a ballet dancer from Brazil, is one such individual.

Initially a reluctant dancer as a child, Ana’s interest in ballet steadily grew as she completed first her elementary, then intermediate exams with her mother’s encouragement. Moving to Portugal at age 15, she soon branched out into contemporary, taking inspiration from the German impressionist dancer, Pina Bausch. Prospects were ripe for an emerging dancer ready to carve out her mark on the world.

But all that came crashing down in 2008, when Ana suffered a psychotic break and found herself barely able to walk. ‘The first thing I remembered that day was being carried into an ambulance’ she recalls. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia and had to undergo a battery of anti-psychotic drugs as the doctors tried to slow down her racing brain. For the next 4 years, she drifted in and out of the hospital, but – thanks in part to support from her loving family and son Leo – finally checked out for good in 2012.

Finally limping back to the dance scene last year, she found ballet had taken on even more importance in her life. ‘It gives me discipline’ she says, ‘and when you have a mind that is going everywhere, discipline is good.’ She found that having a specific goal to work towards also helped focus and strengthen her mind. Currently, she aims to retake her intermediate exams, followed by advanced and the prestigious Solo Seal Award.

Ana credits the experience with making her more fearless and open-minded. She recalls one of her favourite philosophers, Nietchze, and his famous quote: What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. ‘I can even watch more scary movies now’ she laughs, ‘I mean, what’s a gory film compared to what I’ve survived?’

Analuisa continues to excel in her ballet classes with Emily Tench at the Joy of Dance Centre. She also has a website, www.mindtheballet.com, where she shares her experiences and reaches out to others facing similar challenges.


About the Author

Ian Crewe has been dancing ballroom for over 18 years, and has a Licentiate in American smooth and rhythm. His passion for dance and his endless seeking for ways to reach new audiences eventually led him to blogging and the World Wide Web. Ian currently teaches at the Joy of Dance Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada.

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