Pointing Places: Enya’s Story
Many dancers overcome physical challenges to achieve greatness. But sometimes, the challenge comes from within.
After she was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at age 6, Enya was forced to give up tap dancing classes, which she took along with any other style she could get her hands on. ‘If it was dance, I did it’, she recalls, ‘but I had to give up tap. The noise the shoes made were just too distracting for me to focus on anything else.’ This was gradually followed by acro and other dance styles, as she discovered she had hyper-mobile joints, which could injure easily.
As time passed and her mind continued to race, Enya found herself in an unfulfilling job while pushing through university. By then, she had added anorexia to her list of struggles. ‘I felt like, if I starved myself, it might slow down my brain’. At one point, she weighed 88 lbs.
The turnaround came with her return to dance at the Joy of Dance Centre, where she found the precise movement of ballet finally gave her brain something to focus on. ‘I have so much to think about in ballet, there isn’t time for anything else!’ the-now-effervescent Enya laughs. Ballet strengthened her mind in other ways too; ‘I started to think about it like different colour Post-its’, She explained, ‘for example, the Post-it notes for the jete would be completely different from those for a rond de jambe. I found I could access different thoughts for different activities, like a filing cabinet.’
As her mind finally started to work for her, and thanks in part to her supportive instructor, Emily, Enya gradually regained trust in her body, and her confidence soared. ‘It’s freeing, learning to rely on yourself’ she said with a smile. ‘When you are off the barre, you have no room for doubts or insecurities, or they’ll tear you down like a firing squad.’ Her diet improved, and Emily recently complimented her on how much stronger she had become. ‘She told me I used to be like a wet noodle – no muscle, and everything stuck to me’, she laughs, ‘but now I’m more like a dried noodle; much stronger, and negative stuff just bounces off.’
Enya is now 22, and designs websites for a living. She draws inspiration from Misty Copeland, the first female black principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, and hopes to become a principal dancer herself someday. She’s written a beautiful poem for those who find it hard to believe in themselves and uses an inspiration board to push herself every day. ‘I just want to remind people to smile through the tears, and point (your toes) like you’re going places’ she reflects. ‘Remember that you are beautiful, no matter what.’
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.