St. Cecilia Academy News
Alex Strobel '18 reflects on the power of the arts in her journey of healing.
"Alexis, you have Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis," a doctor told me when I was eight years old. My initial thought was, "Am I going to die?" My doctor and family assured me that would not happen because the disease had not progressed enough to destroy my immune system. My next thought shifted to my ultimate love and passion in life—dance. For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed the art of dance. I thought, "Will I still be able to dance? Will this disease hinder my ability to perform?"
Many years later I am still struggling with arthritis. It still adversely affects my everyday life and my ability to dance. I now realize that I will be living with arthritis forever. Yet one thing that has helped me through this journey is the Seasons Dance Company at St. Cecilia Academy. Every spring, the Dance Company organizes a full student-choreographed show, which this year will be held on April 13 and 14. I have participated in the show since freshman year, but during my junior year I decided to share my story through an original dance in hopes of raising awareness about arthritis. At first, I was hesitant. I did not know how my friends, teachers, and other people would react to the piece, and it was difficult to depict arthritis because the disease is invisible and many people do not understand it. Moreover, I tend to hide my emotions and how the disease affects me every day. Even my closest friends do not know the pain I suffer. As a matter of fact, while choreographing this dance I was experiencing a "flare" in my ankle that made it difficult to walk, much less dance. It was a challenge to get my thoughts, emotions, and movements together in order to finish my piece and prepare to present it.
Yet as I stepped on stage that night to perform, my heart was filled with courage and determination. I completely forgot about the pain from the flare in my ankle and all my worries while I was dancing. The transitions to each movement were smooth and graceful. Once I hit my ending pose, the response from the audience showed their appreciation and compassion, and my eyes filled with tears of joy. I found that using my love of dance helped me face the challenge of arthritis and gave me an opportunity to help others become aware of this disease. As I have discovered through the years, often great challenges can provide great opportunities.
Now a senior in this year's dance show titled Perspective, I have the opportunity to choreograph five pieces. One piece is entitled Angels and is a reflection on those who truly inspired me through this arthritis journey. One "angel" in particular is the St. Cecilia Academy community. When I came to SCA in 2014, the faculty and staff greeted me with open minds and hearts. Many teachers donate to my team at the Walk to Cure Arthritis every spring, and my friends have even volunteered in my honor. This Catholic community has supported me with love and prayers, and I am forever grateful. Angels is an expression of gratitude to all those wonderful people at SCA.
St. Cecilia Academy's Seasons Dance Company will present Perspective on Friday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 14 at 1:30 p.m. This is an annual dance concert featuring student choreography. For more ticket information, visit stcecilia.edu/performanceseason.