How did you get hurt?– I was doing my final rehearsal of the evening on So You Think You Can Dance. I was actually feeling pretty good and I was doing a Bollywood piece. I had 8 consecutive split jumps in second (Russians) and on the 5th or 6th one when I landed, it my Achilles just snapped. I didn’t land weird or anything. At first I thought I had stepped on something because my heel didn’t touch the floor and I heard a crack sound. Also, I snapped my OTHER Achilles tendon exactly 1 year and 3 days later… but that’s another story!
Did you have to go to Urgent Care or the ER?– Yes, we have a medic on the spot and once he looked at my ankle, he basically knew immediately that I had snapped my Achilles because it simply wasn’t there anymore. It’s quite visible and your ankle doesn’t really respond.
What did they diagnose you with?– A ruptured Achilles tendon.
Were you able to dance? – No, I was in a cast where my foot was positioned more or less in a pointed position. It was a plaster cast for 2 weeks, regular cast for 4 weeks (all non weight bearing) and then a boot where I would adjust the angle of my foot every few days and non weight bearing for another 3-4 weeks and then eventually once my foot was cranked back to 90 degrees I could slowly start to weight bear.
Were you told to not dance for a period of time- Yes, they said think about it as a 1 year recovery.
Did this affect your teaching or any other job responsibilities- Yes, I was in the top 7 of So You Think You Can Dance so unfortunately I had to withdraw from the competition.
Did you lose money because you were not able to work- Yes, of course, haha
Did you receive a big bill(s) for the treatment you received- Yes I did. I didn’t have great insurance at the time, so my deductible was something like $17,000. I had to pay a lot of it upfront just to get on the surgery table and initially SYTYCD wasn’t going to cover it, but then they decided to reimburse me through their workers compensation after it went through my insurance. This also included basically an entire year of physical therapy to get back up on my feet.
What did you have to do to get better, what doctors, treatments or surgeries did you have to go through?- I found a surgeon through word of my that I felt confident in. I had to get surgery to reconnect my Achilles tendon back together, so basically they sew it back together and then you have to wait for it to heal. The PT is really important because it has to be very hands on. You need to stretch the Achilles tendon back out but you can’t do it too early otherwise it just becomes overstretched and a floppy mush. However, if you wait too long, it tightens up and you’ll never get the range of motion again.
How did this injury ultimately affect you?- Well it changed a lot of my initial plans of what to do. I was a Principal with Miami City Ballet at the time and I left my position to do SYTYCD. I was hoping to join the tour and then spend some time in LA working on commercial things and then eventually return back to a ballet company. The injury put everything on hold and then when I was going to return back to SYTYCD the following year as an all star, 3 days before I was suppose to start I snapped my other Achilles tendon, so it really changed the course of my career. The second time I focused a lot more energy on teaching, acting and singing. I made it to the Hollywood rounds of American Idol and was in the Original Broadway cast of Newsies just 8 months after my surgery.
How did it feel to get back on the dance floor after your injury?- It feels a little weird because one foot/ankle/calf is so weak and I’m not used to that. Luckily I can build muscle pretty quickly so once I was able to stop babying it, the strength came back fairly quickly. I had to be careful with it though to not go crazy and land big jumps that were not safe to land.