Dancing During Covid-19, Part 3, Ava’s Story
Ava is not a quitter.
Ava weighed less than one pound when she was born early, 14½ ounces to be exact. That is less than a can of pop.
Ava will tell you that even though her early birth meant she has cerebral palsy (CP), which affects her muscle movements, she still loves pancakes piled high with fresh fruit. Why is that important? Ava needed eight major operations as a child and one operation on her back meant she was in a hospital for six weeks. Every morning guess what she had for breakfast? Pancakes with fresh fruit!
Ava loves to dance. I asked her why. Her reply was quick and clear. “So often I feel restricted. Dancing gives me a freedom from that restricted feeling. When I’m dancing I connect with other people. Our dance company, Young Dance, has more than 30 dancers. That means more than 30 friends. And that feels really good.”
I asked Ava what’s been hard about “dancing during Covid?” Again, her answer was right to the point:
“Dancing in person means being with your dancing friends. Dancing with Zoom means lots of things can go wrong and suddenly, boom, everyone is gone, you are alone. Maybe the Internet goes out. There is not enough room in an apartment. I have to dance between the living room and the kitchen. That feels NOT private, sort of awkward and weird. My dog likes to get in the way. The audio goes funky. Sometimes the Zoom connection doesn’t work. Performances feel strange. I was creating a duet with another dancer, Ellie, in my choreography class and suddenly—because of the pandemic, no class. We had to complete the dance using Zoom. That was hard. Part of the dance was supposed to be holding hands. We had to figure out a way to create the dance we imagined. We didn’t quit. We didn’t give up. A quitter never gets anywhere in life.”
Ava is not a quitter.
Ava has many interests and many goals. She loves reading and has read more than 100 books this summer. Ava loves horses. Ava and her younger sister have a plan. They will co-own a horse stable. Anyone—all ages, all abilities—can come for riding lessons. Ava wanted to take riding lessons but she could not find any place near that gave lessons to kids with disabilities. When Ava and her sister have a horse stable, everyone who wants to ride a horse will be able to do that.
Ava is a dreamer, a do-er, a dancer. Dancing during Covid has meant “dancing different” but not giving up, finding space, using technology, creating, and continuing to be part of a dance community. Go, Ava!
I encourage you to read I Will Dance, the story of Eva, a young girl with a wish to dance and a challenge to achieving that dream. I Will Dance is written by Nancy Bo Flood, illustrated by Julianna Swaney, and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers.