Dancing through the pain barrier

Please note: The current Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic is fast moving, and reactions to it seem to update not just day-by-day but minute-by-minute. Obviously, this site was not designed to bring you the very latest developments in a ‘breaking news’ story such as this. Instead, this site will continue to include news and opinions relating to major events, policy changes, and so on.


Dancers need strong back muscles to support the turns, jumps, and extensions that they have to perform, so says Jennifer Jordan, writing in the Harvard Business Review. On the other hand, people with scoliosis are likely to have severe back pain that will impact on all parts of their lives.


Paige Faser: “There are a few dancers who actually kept going when they were told they have scoliosis. There are also a lot of dancers who did not keep going because they may have allowed the politics of dance to get the best of them. I chose not to quit and I hope my story can impact others.”

It seems incongruous. How can anyone dance with abnormally cuved and twisted spine – for that is what scoliosis is, in the very simplest of terms – let alone be a professional dancer?

Speaking personally, multiple sclerosis can cause excruciating pain. Certainly enough to prevent me from taking to the dance floor, even if mobility issues had not made me use a wheelchair. So, anyone who ca dance through pain has my admiration and respect.

One such scoliosis warrior and hero is Paige Fraser. She was 13 when scoliosis was diagnosed but, now aged 29, she is a dancing powerhouse.


BecKanne Sisk: “Dance has helped me keep my back strong and not let me sink into my scoliosis. Scoliosis in a way, I found is an asset to my dancing. For instance one arabesque is pretty high because of it! I try to see the positives.”

While her stage career has been interrupted by the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, she expects her role in the American tour of The Lion King to resume later this year. And that show requires her to make 14 costume changes; they also require speed and agility.

But apart from appearing on stage, Paige has taught workshops all over the world; the US, Jamaica, Haiti, and Europe – and has her own not-for-profit foundation.

Bent but Not Broken


Jacqueline Green: “On top of dance being a way that I share my light and live in my purpose, it has taught me about myself, encouraged me to be brave, taken me all around the world exposing me to new things, and given me an opportunity change lives, even if it’s for two hours at a performance. I like to call it my superpower.”

This focuses on raising awareness for scoliosis research and non-surgical treatment. Paige is actively learning more about her condition and believes in Schroth Therapy, Chiropractic Care, Floorbarre, and Massage Therapy; all of which, she says, help her to maintain consistency in her dancing on stage and live a healthy life. Her story is a testimony that with research and resilience you can achieve your dreams.

The Paige Fraser Foundation is focusing on bringing dance, health, and wellness to New York City’s Bronx community, where she was born and raised, and beyond. “We want to provide a safe space for dancers with or without disabilities,” she said.

scoliosisAnother tune in our wonder dancer’s repertoire is being creative director of Bent but Not Broken, an inspirational two-part film highlighting dancers with scoliosis in support of June’s Scoliosis Awareness Month.

Part 1: Our Back-Story highlights three award-winning professional dancers and their journey with scoliosis.

They are: Beckanne Sisk of Ballet West, Jacqueline Green of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, and, of course, Paige Fraser of The Lion King. It includes interviews and footage of each dancer, choreography by Rena Butler, and original Music by Darryl Joseph.

Part 2: Dancing with Scoliosis … TOGETHER! is a videon montage that features and honours #scoliosiswarriors across the world who continue to push past their limits!

Watch it here.

For more information about Paige Fraser, click here.

To find out more about scoliosis, click here.

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Please note that being born in the UK, all my posts, are written using British English spelling.

For example:

Centre                              not center (except in names, Centers of Disease Control)                  Colour                              not color                                                                                                                      Diarrhoea                       not diarrhea                                                                                                  Haematology                not hematology                                                                                Haematopoietic          not hematopoietic

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. More recently, he was a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is for your general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Ian is not a doctor, so cannot and does not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues. Also, consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely his own unless otherwise stated.


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