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Broadway Dancer Opens Up About Her Journey With Scoliosis And Her Go-To Self-Care Practices

Paige Fraser is showing others that there is life beyond a scoliosis diagnosis. She was diagnosed in her freshman year of high school after getting accepted into its prestigious dance program and described that moment as “traumatizing.” While her doctor told her that she may need surgery in the future, she was fortunate to find alternative methods, which included wearing a back brace and seeing a chiropractor twice a week.


“It just was a really difficult, dark time for me my freshman year because I had to process all of those emotions while still showing up. And like being a dancer and putting my best foot forward and pushing through,” she tellsxoNecole. “I think aside from the support of my parents, my love of dance and my dream of becoming a professional dancer is what kind of kept me focused and allowed me to just tap into why I was doing what I was doing.”

Fast forward years later, Paige has danced for Beyoncé and the legendary Alvin Ailey dance company and is currently in The Lion King on Broadway, proving that scoliosis can’t stop what’s for you. Scoliosis is a sideways curve in your spine that, according to Cleveland Clinic, affects over six million people in the U.S. June is National Scoliosis Awareness Month, and Paige is using her platform to share her story and educate others on the disability.

Photo by Tatiana Katkova

Not only is she a scoliosis advocate, but she also serves as the chief artistic officer and program director for dance for The Paige Fraser Foundation, which her aunt, Lesmah Fraser, founded in her honor. The Paige Fraser Foundation is a 501(c)(3) community-based non-profit organization that focuses on art and wellness programs for people with or without disabilities.

“Of course, it's named after me, but it's bigger than me, in a sense. We offer art programming and dance, visual arts, music, theater, and wellness. And over the last six years, it's been beautiful to see these programs grow,” she shares. Paige is also the mastermind behind the Spine Series, which they have every June for National Scoliosis Awareness Month.

“In June, we have a program called Spine Series, and I founded that program specifically during the pandemic because we were all stuck inside, and that's one thing with scoliosis, you never want to just be sitting, right?” She says. “Movement helps any kind of bone and joint deformity. So I pitched Spine Series to the board, and they loved it, and this year is our fifth year offering it, and it's offered on Zoom. And what I love about it is it's accessible to people all over the world.”

“In June, we have a program called Spine Series, and I founded that program specifically during the pandemic because we were all stuck inside, and that's one thing with scoliosis, you never want to just be sitting, right? Movement helps any kind of bone and joint deformity. So I pitched Spine Series to the board, and they loved it, and this year is our fifth year offering it, and it's offered on Zoom. And what I love about it is it's accessible to people all over the world.”

Photo by Tatiana Katkova

“And we've seen people from all over the world participate in Spine Series, and that's really just another beautiful reminder and affirming that like I'm not alone in this journey with scoliosis, and there are people craving information to feel better.”

Living with scoliosis, it’s important to take care of your body. Being a professional dancer, Paige is constantly challenging her body every day, so one of the key things she learned to do was to listen to her body and give it the proper care it needs. That includes taking a Pilates class, acupuncture, getting a massage, or seeing a chiropractor. This can also help prevent flare-ups, and if you are experiencing flare-ups, she says it might be a sign that something is wrong.

Photo by Tatiana Katkova

“I'm so grateful for this conversation and the ongoing conversations I've been having because it's not one size fits all. There are some people who get diagnosed, and they need the surgery, but then the thing is, after the surgery, you still have to take care of yourself,” she says. “You can't just rely on that. There still has to be a practice in place that keeps you connected with your body. A lot of scoliosis is alignment. It's alignment issues, which cause breathing issues, which can cause mobility issues, right? So to prevent that, it's better to just get ahead of it and really do research.”

While Paige will always continue her advocacy, she knows that at some point, she will have to transition from performing. However, that doesn’t mean she will leave the arts forever. She is currently pursuing her master's degree in arts and culture advocacy and will graduate in August. She also reveals that she is getting into filmmaking and helping her mom bring her stories to life.

Follow Paige on Instagram and learn more about The Paige Fraser Foundation.

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Feature image by Tatiana Katkova

 

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