How This Professional Circus Performer Learned to Shake Off Rejection
For the traditional forms of dance, whether it's ballet or the Rockettes, there's one standard style of performance and one acceptable body type. While trying to make a name for myself, I can't count how many times I heard, "Well, you and your act are great, but you're too heavy." It brought back bad memories from puberty— me in my room, miserable and hating my body, eating cookies and listening to the Sister Act soundtrack on repeat. But instead of letting rejection pummel me, I kept telling myself, My routine is genius and hilarious. Of course I'll make it.
I've now spent ten years crisscrossing the globe as a performer, and though I consider myself a pro, I did get weepy onstage once. At the 2008 Sydney Mardi Gras, I roller-skated in a blonde Afro wig and a gold kimono while Olivia Newton-John sang a ten-minute version of the theme from Xanadu. Thousands of people were going wild and screaming. I've watched Xanadu a million times, but I'd never thought about how powerful that song is. At that moment, with tears streaming down my cheeks, I understood it differently: It's an anthem about a magical, idyllic place where everyone's free to be exactly what they want.