Paige Fraser soars and twirls effortlessly in the latest Intel commercial highlighting the company’s new innovations in computer technology.
But if you look deeper, technology isn’t the only awe-inspiring beauty in the commercial. It’s Fraser whom suffers daily from scoliosis – a sideways curvature in the spine.
“I do experience muscle tightness because if your spine is S-curved, one side is compensating for the other, which then pulls on your pelvis, which then makes one leg longer than the other,” Fraser, 25, says while sitting inside a rehearsal studio at Visceral Dance Chicago, a contemporary dance company of which she is a founding member.
“I’ve been dancing professionally for five years. I’ve been dancing with the condition for about 12 years… it’s a blessing to be able to move and keep up with my coworkers,” she says.
Fraser began dancing at 4 years old. According to her mom, she wouldn’t stop singing and moving around, so she put Fraser in ballet. Yet, while a freshman at The Ailey School in New York, Fraser received the worst news of her young life. “I had a curvature in my spine,” she explains. “The first doctor visit I had, I was told I needed surgery.
The Bronx native thought she would never dance again.
About 7 million people in America are living with scoliosis, an incurable disorder. The primary age for diagnosis is between ages 10 and 15, according to the National Scoliosis Foundation.
Ailey II dancer Lloyd A. Boyd was a sophomore in high school when he found out he had scoliosis. In 2007, an instructor at his Summer Intensive program in Dayton, OH noticed his uneven back. A doctor diagnosed Boyd with severe scoliosis and told him he had two options – wearing a back brace for the rest of his life or surgery.
“I was about 16 at the time, and I knew nothing about back surgery. I knew nothing about scoliosis,” Boyd tells Blackdoctor.org. With the advice of his parents, Boyd underwent spine fusion surgery. Doctors inserted metal rods into his back to hold his misaligned vertebrae together. He couldn’t dance for six months, and was home-schooled.
“I didn’t want to wear a back brace when I dance or on a regular basis,” he says. “I just felt like the surgery would be long-term and it would help me, and it has.”