Series - Barely Breathing Ballerina

Still Living, Still Dancing - Meet Bailey Vincent (Barely Breathing Ballerina - E1)

When Bailey Anne Vincent wears a tank top in dance class, her young students sometimes ask about the "super obvious" raised bump she has on the right side of her upper chest. "I tell them I have cool robot parts that help me dance better," she said.


The bump is a portacath, implanted under the skin for the many infusions Bailey needs. She has cystic fibrosis, the life-threatening condition that causes cells that produce mucus, sweat and digestive juices to get thick and sticky, then plug up tubes and passageways.

Another rare genetic disorder, primary ciliary dyskinesia, brings about defects in similar areas, and the two conditions left her profoundly deaf, gasping for air and doubled over in pain.

Despite what's going on inside her body—and the scars that look like "the zombie apocalypse"—Vincent dances. She glides across the floor with ease and grace, with extended lines and delicate movements that belie the medical battles within.

She teaches adults in the group she founded, Company360, a professional contemporary ballet company, and reads lips so well that she can hold her own in a class among eight or 10 fellow people. Her inspiration for forming this group were the hard lessons learned in other dance companies that drove her to create a comfortable space for creativity, open communication and especially positive body image. "Though I may have the more prototypical ballerina body type," she explains, "half of my body is robot parts and scars, and it doesn't work the way I want it to, and I cough all the time."

Bailey somehow manages to make it work and still keep a profoundly positive attitude. "An upside of being deaf in the dance world is that dance is a cool and visual language. It's much like ASL except in a grander form, using your entire body."

Bailey is a mother to two girls, a wife, a disability and chronic health advocate, a body positive promoter, a social media and tech geek, a professional journalist and writer, and she's a deaf culture advocate. As if that wasn't enough, she is launching a charity called CatchingBreaths to enable chronic hospital patients to connect with artists that share their passion. Having spent extended time in hospitals, Bailey has a special perspective on the importance of staying connected and positive during recovery.

Although she has become very familiar with fighting for her next breath, it's a fight she gladly takes on for herself, her family, and the others around her.

Learn more about Company360 at: https://www.instagram.com/catchingbreath/


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