My entire family are dancers, it’s always been part of our routine growing up. We always would get up and randomly dance even while shopping in a supermarket.
I was diagnosed with arthritis when I was one year old and the doctors said that eventually it could affect my eyes. I always struggled with that. When I was a senior in high school, my vision was decreasing rapidly. For me, it felt like the end of the world because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to keep dancing. I thought, ‘Okay, this is it.’
I didn't know anything about disability. I didn't know anybody blind. Nobody in my family understood what was going on. It was my dream to go to college and be part of the dance or cheer team. Instead, I focused on learning how to use a cane and how to be an independent blind person and just let my dance dream die.
It wasn't until 2016, when I was introduced to a woman who had started the Blind Dance Company. For me, the hardest part as a blind person is that you tend to stay in one place, mostly because you don't want to make anybody else feel uncomfortable. As soon as you take two steps, you hear: 'Don't do this, don’t go over there!' So you get very confined. You almost feel like a caged bird.
I remember doing my first contemporary dance piece in 10 years. Being on stage by myself again after all of those years, in a room with over 200 audience members, I felt complete freedom and I was able to express myself in motion. It was such an emotional moment for me. Let it flow. Let it move. Let it be. Just let it happen. That's the beauty of dance: It can be whatever you want it to be, really.
We don't have a lot of role models so that people see and know what we can do. And I think that's a big issue. It's very rare that you see a blind individual representing a fashion or beauty brand, or really anything. Representation alone is important, but it needs to be authentic and not just dressing people to make them look blind by throwing some glasses on them and giving them a white cane. That's such a stereotypical thing. Blindness is not just one thing, it’s such a wide spectrum. Some people can still see colors, others can’t. We don't all have dogs. We don't all have canes.
I would love to be part of a campaign that's not specifically centered around disabilities. I just want to break barriers and get rid of these stereotypes. One day I’d love to dance for Rihanna. Why can't a blind dancer do background for somebody like her, or Usher or Beyoncé? I would love to be a part of that change and do campaigns where the focus is not disability, where I’m just there to dance.