Meet Addison Grace Mouser, 15, from DALLAS, Texas! She has danced as a Trainee with Joffrey Ballet and The Dallas Conservatory.
Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
It has been quite the journey. I was a late walker at almost 18 months old due to hearing and balance issues. By 2 years old, I was spending my days glued to videos watching ballet, so I started classes at 2 1/2. I had a natural ability to learn dances quickly, and I could control a lot of my balance disorder even though I fail my balance test at my doctor's office. It surprises my doctors that I am successful in dance. My journey has been up and down with many health challenges, but dance has been my blessing to keep me focused on something good.
We're always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we've spoken with enough people to know that it's not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
With hearing loss, balance disorder, a 3-year illness, and recently two knee surgeries, it definitely has not been easy. It often feels like I am always trying to catch up, and many times it feels like I am starting over from the beginning. But dance has been in my heart from a 2-year-old, and I love it.
What personal limitations, if any did you go through in your young career?
Somedays, my balance is very affected, especially during allergy season, and those days can be tricky with turns. But it's part of me, so I have to push through it.
Has anybody ever tried to limit you on what you could do? If so, how did you fight it?
Definitely! Doctor's told my mom early on that dance wasn't a good choice, but she knew how determined I was and let me keep dancing. I honestly have been bullied by some dance teachers who tried to humiliate me multiple times about my hearing disability and take away things that helped me be on the same level as kids with regular hearing. Thankfully, I knew that their wrong response belonged to them and it didn't dictate who I am or what I should be allowed to have to help my disability.
How do you conquer negative talk?
When you grow up with challenges, you have to learn pretty quickly how to block out the negative and not invite what others say into your own brain and way of thinking. My mom and I were homeless for a time last year and rather than focus on how hard it was to live in our car, I focused on how blessed we were to have a car because many homeless don't have a car to live in. I also am grateful to have a supportive mom and also to God, who helps me overcome so much.
What is your favorite quote?
The one I have claimed for some time is "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou
So, what's next? Any big plans?
To keep overcoming, to continue to inspire others by sharing my journey, to support others with health issues and disabilities, and of course, to keep dancing!!