Photo credit: Louise Flores
Dancing With the Stars viewers are familiar with Marinda Davis’ work after her piece, “Wouldn’t Change Anything,” was performed by Julianne Hough on Season 25. What they don’t know is how the whole story came together.
Dance fans will get the opportunity to learn more about Davis and her journey through the CW series, My Last Days. The docuseries, which is helmed by Jane the Virgin star, Justin Baldoni, chronicles the lives of people with terminal illness.
The choreographer was always sick as a child, but she didn’t receive her first diagnosis until she was 28. It was then that Marinda discovered she was battling not one, but a series of diseases that were compromising her health, including Vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Lupus, Hashimoto’s disease, Sjogren's syndrome, Mastocytosis, Dysautonomia International: Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, Cushing’s disease and Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia.
To add to the mystery, Marinda was adopted and needed to find out about her medical history.
“I was adopted at a couple of days old. In the ‘80s, it was a closed adoption. I found my birth family when I was 29 because my doctors needed more information,” she explains to Dance Network. “[My birth family] is in a difficult poverty level, so they don’t have the resources to figure out what’s wrong, but I believe that some of them have what I have.”
With all of her daily challenges, Marinda admits that dance “pretty much saved my life. It’s what keeps me going and it’s an outlet to channel all of the emotions that I feel. I have a dance company and I made a show about the five stages of grief about being diagnosed with something that shortens your life. It’s incredibly healing.”
Marinda is no longer able to dance, but she’s able to communicate the movement in new ways.
“I really had to learn how to use my words and use assistants. I choreograph and teach nonstop, but it’s definitely different than the way I used to,” she says.
Photo credit: ABC
The opportunity from My Last Days came about when Justin reached out to her via Instagram over and over again.
“At the time, I was honestly in denial about what was going on with me. When he said the title of the show, My Last Days, I was very reluctant and kind of shut it down,” she shares. “I didn’t want to believe that I was one of those people.”
Thanks to Justin, Marinda was introduced to Julianne, who came up with a way to tell her story through dance. Without ever meeting her, Julianne had it written into her Season 25 DWTS guest judge contract that she had to have a piece choreographed by Marinda on the show.
“I was blown away because at this point she hadn’t even met me. You will actually see the moment in the documentary,” says Marinda. “She comes to my house to tell me that we are going to do this and asks if she can play me in the piece. It was a really great moment. I am so grateful to her for taking a chance like that.”
The duo went through over 30 songs to find the perfect music to tell Marinda’s story until Julianne had an idea. It happened to be an Alexander Jean [BC Jean and Mark Ballas] called “Wouldn’t Change Anything.”
“I loved the song and Mark was so great because he was competing that night [on DWTS],” she explains. “I thought he wouldn’t agree to sing with the pressure of the finale, but he did. Mark and BC are so talented. It was beautiful.”
Marinda has had a big year with the DWTS performance, My Last Days and two members of her company, marInspired, will be performing her work on the upcoming Season 2 of World of Dance. She still has big goals, though.
“My company is my greatest joy in life. I would like to take them on tour, that is the ultimate dream,” she says. “I would also love to choreograph a Broadway show and a Cirque show.”
For other young choreographers following in her footsteps, Marinda has some sage advice.
“There’s truly room for everyone in this industry, but the second you begin to imitate someone else’s voice — your lane disappears,” she sums up. “Stay authentic to your creativity.”
Marinda’s episode of ‘My Last Days’ will premiere on Friday, May 25 at 8 p.m. EDT/ 7 p.m. CDT on The CW.
Don’t miss the latest ‘To The Pointe Live with Kristyn Burtt’ featuring Season 14 ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Top 4 finalist, Kiki Nyemchek: WATCH HERE