At 6-years-old, she began training in ballet, and once she
was inspired by professionals she knew that this was her passion in life. Now
at 14-years-old, Averi Hodgson has overcome more obstacles then most people do
in a lifetime. Despite being diagnosed with epilepsy and scoliosis, Hodgson
continues to move forward with her dream to be a ballerina and refuses to let
any diagnosis set her back.
Hodgson started dancing at the age of 6 when her mother enrolled her in a small company at their church, but it was when she was 7-years-old and saw the ballet “Sleeping Beauty” that she knew she wanted ballet to be her career. Although, around this same time, Hodgson started having seizures sporadically and no one could figure out why. Nevertheless, Hodgson continued to train with the Pittsburgh Youth Ballet Company, and now is enrolled at the Ballet Academy of Pittsburgh under the direction of Steven and Lindsay Piper.
It wasn’t until 2014, when Hodgson was in 5th grade, that the cause of her seizures was discovered. After having three seizures in one day, the last of which was at a hospital, she was diagnosed with epilepsy. It was a long road to find the right medication, but thankfully Hodgson hasn’t suffered a seizure since 2015.
After taming her epilepsy though, she was thrown another huge curve ball towards her ballerina dream. During a Pilates class at her dance studio, it was discovered that she had scoliosis. Fortunately, she didn’t have to have surgery, but she continues to wear a custom-made back brace every day for 20-22 hours a day. The only times she takes this brace off are to shower and for ballet class.
Getting used to scoliosis and wearing a back brace every day is tough. Hodgson had to make wardrobe adjustments, fit in chiropractor appointments twice a week, and deal with the depression that often comes when you realize you can’t move like everyone else can. Also, in dance, a curvature of the spine makes it more difficult to keep correct technique with certain movements.
More: Paige Fraser’s Curvy Success Story: https://www.dancenetwork.tv/Catalog/Post/29
Once Hodgson got her setbacks under control, and regained confidence in her dance abilities, she auditioned for the School of American Ballet Summer Intensive Course and was accepted. She credits her continued perseverance and success to her great support system of family, friends, and church. Now, this aspiring ballerina is learning the Balanchine technique from the greatest ballet minds just like other exceptional ballerinas her age.
”nt others to know that you can accomplish your goals, no matter what life might bring your way. I am not a diagnosis, I’m a dancer. And most importantly I know that my story is a testimony that nothing is impossible with God,” Hodgson said in an interview with danzia.com.
As someone who deals with scoliosis daily, and grew up wearing a back brace, I can tell you that this teenager is a total inspiration to all ages. Kids her age probably don’t understand why she wears the back brace, and they may look at her differently. Regardless, she is chasing her dreams just the same and showing everyone that your mind and your heart are more powerful than any diagnosis.