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I Can “Sing More Than One Note”

At my high school, a student organization hosted a talent show. Not many people really know this about me, but I love to sing. I was in choir in middle school, but the fact that I like to sing probably confuses people because I chose to be in Talented Play Production, not Talented Musical Theatre. I do love the singing part of musicals. Ultimately, though, musicals include complex choreography and the people in musical theatre are cliquey, so I signed up for Talented Play Production.

Anyway, most people at my school (excluding my friends) view me one of two ways: 1) the kid who walks weirdly or 2) the nice, smart, nerdy girl. (Obviously, I prefer Option 2.) No one really sees me as anything besides that with the exception of my friends. I’ve liked to sing ever since I can remember, but I’ve always been shy about it. And until this year, I liked performing, but I was never really passionate about theater. That has changed.

I decided to put myself out there, so I signed up for the talent show. I like challenging myself. Although performing in the talent show would be nerve-wracking, I knew it would also be fun, and I wanted to prove to myself that I could get up onstage and be vulnerable in front of people and still be okay.

This was not the first time I’d performed in a talent show. I used to go to a week-long sleepaway camp for kids with disabilities. The camp had a talent show, and the first year I sang “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus.

That talent show was less of a showcase of talent—though everyone was talented—and more of a fun camp activity that mostly everyone participated in. In other words, less pressure. At the time, I was nine and it was a new experience for me, so singing in the talent show did make me nervous. My parents were surprised to hear that I sang because I’m generally pretty shy and I have anxiety, but I don’t let my anxiety stop me from doing things I want to do.

My school talent show this year was very different. Only a select few kids auditioned, and the talent show was held in the high school theater with lighting and MCs and tech—much like in my Talented Play Production class. Luckily, because of the class, most of the theater and performance process was not new to me, so I felt more comfortable than I would have otherwise.

Still, this talent show was a much bigger deal. Many people came—so many that the theater I was so used to in class was totally filled—and the talent show was technically a competition, though I really didn’t care about that.

I had chosen to sing the song “Human” by Christina Perri. It probably was not the best pitch for my voice, but the song expressed the message I wanted and so that was all I cared about. Winning the talent show was not the priority for me. My priorities were to prove to myself that I could be vulnerable in front of people, prove to others that I was more than just the nerd and the girl who had CP, and hopefully send a positive message in the process with the song I chose.

In a nutshell, I wanted to prove that I could “sing more than one note” (not necessarily in the literal sense). My “notes” are always pretty straightforward—smart, a high achiever, a nerd, socially awkward, unique, maybe a little weird, slow. I wanted to prove that those things are not all I am. I am more than the way I walk. There is more to me than taking pride in my schoolwork. I wanted people to see me on the inside a little bit. I wear vulnerability on my sleeve with my CP, but I wanted to be vulnerable for a different reason. I wanted to be more than one dimension; I wanted to inspire people with my voice and not necessarily with my story.

For one night, I didn’t want my legs to be the reason people stared at me. I didn’t want people to label me as a nerd when they looked at me. I wanted to use my voice, to be brave, to be vulnerable, to do something that people could appreciate.

I think—and hope—that I proved to myself and to others that I am not “one note”. I am not just the girl who is smart, or the girl who can’t walk right. I can be vulnerable. I can be someone else than who I have made myself to be. I can inspire people without them knowing my background, or my story. I can sing.

#performingartistsonthemighty #CerebralPalsy #Anxiety

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Books Featuring Ballet Dancers With Health Challenges

A lot of people use performing arts, like ballet, as an outlet. It turns out, fictional characters do, too! Here is a list of books featuring ballet dancers with health challenges:

1. “Brave Enough” by Kati Gardner
Teenager Cason Martin is the youngest ballerina in the Atlanta Ballet Conservatory. She never really had a choice of whether she learned to dance or not. Her mother, the conservatory's artistic director, has made all the decisions in Cason's life. But that's about to change. Cason has been hiding an injury, and it's much worse than anyone imagines. Davis Channing understands all too well what it's like to give up control of your life. He's survived cancer, but his drug addiction nearly killed him. Now he's been sober for seven months and enjoying his community service at the hospital. But just when he thinks he's got it together, Davis's ex-girlfriend, who is still battling her addiction, barrels back into his life. Cason and Davis are not friends. But, as their worlds collide, they will start to depend on one another. Can they both be brave enough to beat the odds?

2. “The Other Side of Perfect” by Mariko Turk
This YA follows Alina, an aspiring dancer who suffers a devastating injury and must face a world without ballet—as well as the darker side of her former dream. Alina Keeler was destined to dance, but then a terrifying fall shatters her leg—and her dreams of a professional ballet career along with it. After a summer healing (translation: eating vast amounts of Cool Ranch Doritos and bingeing ballet videos on YouTube), she is forced to trade her pre-professional dance classes for normal high school, where she reluctantly joins the school musical. However, rehearsals offer more than she expected—namely Jude, her annoyingly attractive cast-mate she just might be falling for. But to move forward, Alina must make peace with her past and face the racism she experienced in the dance industry. She wonders what it means to yearn for ballet—something so beautiful, yet so broken. And as broken as she feels, can she ever open her heart to someone else?

3. “Sparrow” by Mary Cecilia Jackson
*This may be triggering to readers who have experienced domestic violence, trauma, and abuse.

Though Savannah Rose―Sparrow to her friends and family―is a gifted ballerina, her real talent is keeping secrets. Schooled in silence by her long-dead mother, Sparrow has always believed that her lifelong creed―“I’m not the kind of girl who tells”―will make her just like everyone else: Normal. Happy. Safe. But in the aftermath of a brutal assault by her seemingly perfect boyfriend Tristan, Sparrow must finally find the courage to confront the ghosts of her past, or lose herself forever….

4. “How It Feels To Fly” by Kathryn Holmes
The movement is all that matters. For as long as Samantha can remember, she’s wanted to be a professional ballerina. She’s lived for perfect pirouettes, sky-high extensions, and soaring leaps across the stage. Then her body betrayed her. The change was gradual. Stealthy. Failed diets. Disapproving looks. Whispers behind her back. The result: crippling anxiety about her appearance, which threatens to crush her dancing dreams entirely. On her dance teacher’s recommendation, Sam is sent to a summer treatment camp for teen artists and athletes who are struggling with mental and emotional obstacles. If she can make progress, she’ll be allowed to attend a crucial ballet intensive. But when asked to open up about her deepest insecurities, secret behaviors, and paralyzing fears to complete strangers, Sam can’t cope. Sam forms an unlikely bond with Andrew, a former college football player who’s one of her camp counselors. As they grow closer, Andrew helps Sam see herself as he does—beautiful. But just as she starts to believe that there’s more between them than friendship, disappointing news from home sends her into a tailspin. With her future uncertain and her body against her, will Sam give in to the anxiety that imprisons her?

📚 Happy reading! 🩰

#themightyreaders #performingartistsonthemighty #Cancer #MentalHealth #Depression #Abuse #Trauma #EatingDisorders

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Books Featuring Thespians With Health Challenges

A lot of people use performing arts, such as theatre, as an outlet. It turns out that a lot of fictional characters do, too! Here is a list of books featuring thespians with health challenges:

1. “The Chance To Fly” by Ali Stroker
Thirteen-year-old Nat Beacon loves a lot of things: her dog Warbucks, her best friend Chloe, and competing on her wheelchair racing team, the Zoomers, to name a few. But there’s one thing she’s absolutely OBSESSED with: MUSICALS! From Hamilton to Les Mis, there’s not a cast album she hasn’t memorized and belted along to. She’s never actually been in a musical though, or even seen an actor who uses a wheelchair for mobility on stage. Would someone like Nat ever get cast? But when Nat’s family moves from California to New Jersey, Nat stumbles upon auditions for a kids’ production of Wicked, one of her favorite musicals ever! And she gets into the ensemble! The other cast members are super cool and inclusive (well, most of them)—especially Malik, the male lead and cutest boy Nat’s ever seen. But when things go awry a week before opening night, will Nat be able to cast her fears and insecurities aside and “Defy Gravity” in every sense of the song title?

2. “Cut Loose” by Ali Stroker
The showstopping sequel to “The Chance to Fly”, “Cut Loose!” by Tony Award–winner Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz is an uplifting story about embracing your strengths, standing out, and standing up for what you believe in. It’s the beginning of eighth grade, and Nat Beacon is nervous. Not only will she be the New Kid, but the New Kid in a Wheelchair. And the school year starts off No one seems friendly, and she can’t get to the cafeteria without help. But there are a few bright spots. Namely, her best friend, Hudson; her boyfriend (swoon!), Malik; and her very favorite theater. This year, there’s a middle school theater competition, and any production that wins their regional competition will get the chance to perform—on a real Broadway stage! Nat couldn’t be more excited. This is her chance to make it big and prove she belongs at her new school! She wows the director and gets cast in the school Footloose! But rehearsals are super stressful. Dance diva Skye wants more complex choreography, Malik keeps flaking for band practice, and Hudson gives Nat the cold shoulder, leaving Nat confused and alone. Nat starts to wonder whether she can really carry the show to Broadway and whether, without her friends, it’s worth doing theater at all.

3. “Fade To Us” by Julia Day
Fade To Us is a story about found families, the bond of sisterhood, and the agony and awe of first love. Brooke’s summer is going to be EPIC—having fun with her friends and a job that lets her buy a car. Then her new stepfather announces his daughter is moving in. Brooke has always longed for a sibling, so she’s excited about spending more time with her stepsister. But she worries, too. Natalie has Asperger’s—and Brooke’s not sure how to be the big sister that Natalie needs. After Natalie joins a musical theater program, Brooke sacrifices her job to volunteer for the backstage crew. She’s mostly there for Natalie, but Brooke soon discovers how much she enjoys being part of the show. Especially sweet is the chance to work closely with charming and fascinating Micah—the production’s stage manager. If only he wasn’t Natalie’s mentor… When summer comes to an end, will Brooke finally have the family she so desperately wants—and the love she’s only dreamed about?

4. “Short” by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Julia is very short for her age, but by the end of the summer run of The Wizard of Oz, she'll realize how big she is inside, where it counts. She hasn't ever thought of herself as a performer, but when the wonderful director of Oz casts her as a Munchkin, she begins to see herself in a new way. As Julia becomes friendly with the poised and wise Olive—one of the adults with dwarfism who've joined the production's motley crew of Munchkins—and with her deeply artistic neighbor, Mrs. Chang, Julia's own sense of self as an artist grows. Soon, she doesn't want to fade into the background and it's a good thing, because her director has more big plans for Julia!

5. “Say It Out Loud” by Allison Varnes
Charlotte Andrews is perfectly fine being quiet—in fact, she prefers it. When she doesn’t speak, people can’t make fun of her stutter. But when she witnesses bullying on the school bus and doesn’t say anything, her silence comes between her and her best friend. As if that wasn’t bad enough, her parents signed her up for musical theater. Charlotte doesn’t want to speak onstage, but at least she doesn’t stutter when she sings. Then, just as she starts to find her voice, the arts program is cut. Charlotte can’t stay silent anymore. So she begins to write. Anonymous encouraging notes to her classmates. Letters to the school board to save the school musical. And an essay about the end of her best friendship—and her hope that she can still save it. Words could save Charlotte Andrews and everything she believes in… if she just believes in herself enough to speak up.

6. “Scars Like Wings” by Erin Stewart
Ava Lee has lost everything there is to lose: Her parents. Her best friend. Her home. Even her face. She doesn't need a mirror to know what she looks like—she can see her reflection in the eyes of everyone around her. A year after the fire that destroyed her world, her aunt and uncle have decided she should go back to high school. Be "normal" again. Whatever that is. Ava knows better. There is no normal for someone like her. And forget making friends—no one wants to be seen with the Burned Girl, now or ever. But when Ava meets a fellow survivor named Piper, she begins to feel like maybe she doesn't have to face the nightmare alone. Sarcastic and blunt, Piper isn't afraid to push Ava out of her comfort zone. Piper introduces Ava to Asad, a boy who loves theater just as much as she does, and slowly, Ava tries to create a life again. Yet Piper is fighting her own battle, and soon Ava must decide if she's going to fade back into her scars . . . or let the people by her side help her fly.

📚 Happy reading! 🎭

#themightyreaders #performingartistsonthemighty #SpinalCordInjury #Paralysis #AspergersSyndrome #Dwarfism #Stuttering #burnsurvivors

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