A Shattered Dream: Part Two

I had only been dancing for 2 or 3 years when I decided to attend Vorp’s Summer School Dance Program in Toronto. I had the privilege of being taught by the Artistic Director of Dance Detroit who offered me an opportunity of a lifetime. He pulled me aside one day and asked if I would consider dancing in his production of The Nutcracker that winter!

Wow, wow, wow, is all I can say! The Artistic Director saw potential in my dancing! I was selected as the only Canadian citizen to perform in Dance Detroit’s full length version of The Nutcracker! Being so young at the time I had to get permission from both my parents and dance teachers. Arrangements were made for me to travel to Detroit to begin rehearsals. And soon I was preparing for my role as Fritz, Clara’s rotten younger brother in The Nutcracker.

Even though I returned to Detroit every Christmas Season for the next five years my first year was the most memorable. I still remember a quote from one of the articles I was featured in.

“John Davie tossed off pirouettes like kids his age tossed snowballs”.

Over that five year period I not only grew older and matured, but my career truly began to take shape. I began dancing other roles and was truly grateful for the opportunities being given to me. One thing grew more and more evident, I felt I was growing up too fast. Questions plagued me, like whether I was missing out on my youth, or what experiences were my friends having? I felt different in many ways; after all I was not only choosing but building my career at a young age.

I was also quickly growing accustom to discouragement and comments about my chosen career path. I learned to turn a deaf ear to it, and in other cases I persevered to change their mind. One such case was my eldest brother; a Naval Officer. He expressed some disappointment in my career choice and in response to this I also joined the Navy League Cadets. With a great amount of effort and determination I eventually won him over.

The constant bullying I experienced during my childhood started to take its toll on me. It began to shape how I saw myself and others. I would often get angry with myself as I was always striving for perfection. I found that people in general made me angry at times for simply being who they were. And I was quick to judge if I felt threatened in any way. The constant fighting for acceptance was damaging to my character. All I could do was to persevere with what I ultimately wanted to do.

In hindsight, this constant fighting for approval and acceptance, however damaging, was valuable in my journey living with HIV. It was through these early experiences that I was able to withstand the stigma, discrimination and loss that would soon overwhelm me.

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