Aerial Dance Fusion Performers

Rise Above – Flight of the Phoenix

See the path to production in our Behind the Scenes featurette!

This is Dylan, and I’m writing to tell you about Misty. Let’s say this began a year ago when we shattered her heel. That’s a beginning that makes sense, and this story needs a beginning.

We were practicing a new trick. We were tired, frustrated, and the trick was dangerous. We asked ourselves should we try this again or go get some soup (wonton from a chinese place down the road that has the best). Standing back to back, and gripping her foot in a split (behind my head), I lifted her over me in a flip into a vertical press. Only the vertical press didn’t happen and when she hit the floor, I heard a crack like a gunshot that I didn’t tell her about ’til much much later. We had shattered her heel in, I believe, five places.

Misty the Bionic Woman

Now we didn’t know that just then but days later. That night we knew that she was in extreme pain and probably broke something. Late night urgent care wrapped it up and gave her some crutches. We went and drank whiskey. She spent one of the most painful nights of her life in bed unable to sleep for it all. A day or two later we learned it was much worse.

Should’ve gotten that damned soup.

Now this physical pain was far more than imagined after that first night. We had ‘obliterated’ her heel. The recovery lasted for months. She was in the worst position, working, living on her own in a third floor walk-up, driving a stick that she could no longer manage. All on one leg. If that. The glory she felt when she got behind the wheel again! I heard it in her voice later when she talked of that moment, that regained freedom.

The pain from the injury was, at least, a challenge to overcome. It was a hard one and she did it with dogged persistence. I could tell you of the tears and pain I witnessed, the scream, the crying out. What was worse was the haggardness and devastation of not being able to move. As hard as the physical pain was–and it clearly was–the depths of inability and disablement… those things wore on her far more than the physical toll.

But the worst suffering is always of the heart. That fear of never being able to express yourself again. To make this clear, dancing is her expression and how her soul fully reveals itself. It is a big damned deal. I have never felt the depth of terror I heard in her voice and saw in her eyes when, through enormous pain, she gasped “Dylan, this is my DREAM” thinking that dream dead.

Pain. Lots of it. However, it was the misery and despair, the hopelessness and dependence–those pulled at her through surgery and recovery. Those pulled her down in the times when movement in her heel, ankle, foot, leg were in jeopardy and the resilience of her body a mystery.

Post-op meds are quite effective


Misty pushed through it all. She bore the pain and she fought the fear. She fought the sickness the meds brought on, the loopy high and the spaces of her life that she will never remember.

She did not fight with a smile. Who would? Neither did she wallow. Her life was bent towards working and recovery. And finding her dream again. That’s what this story is about. That’s what this story is mostly about.

Within that period of devastation, there was a spark, an ember, a flame that was too deep and too strong to die. It was when her life burned around her that she was able to sift through the ash and dust of who she was and begin to burn into who she would become. To say that it was transformative, would not be saying enough.

Because she learned, and she discovered. She had long days and longer nights to search through herself and to recognize the many parts of her that she had lived with for so long. It is such a horrifying gift to be forced to face the parts of yourself that are not so nice. That are working against you. Well she had to, in order to fight back and push through. That effort was due to that ember, that spark that would soon find its fuel in the ashes of its past. I lied when I wrote that this was a fine place to start. It began much further back. The injury could be said to just be the catalyst.


When Misty faced recovery, slogged through it, rebuilt her strength and flexibility, she gained more than the physical. Perspective is a hell of a thing and when you’re forced out of yourself, you have the opportunity to look around and see if your life is the one you want. Are your relationships where they need to be? Who is stepping up to be part of your life? Who isn’t? What the hell exists on the other side of all this? She faced these and more than I can say, as the things that cut the deepest often come from within.

It focused her. More importantly she found control of herself. She found the little voice that we all have, but rarely listen to. That’s an important voice to hear. It gives you time to speak and words to speak with when you need them most. She never lost her dream. I’m going to tell you what that dream is because I share it and because I can.

That dream is to Inspire. That dream is to Dance and to Express, and she may not admit this but to Shine Brightly for all to see. RISE ABOVE is a step in that direction. It is about encountering your demons and going into the depths of yourself. It is about fighting your way out and overcoming them. It is about finding peace and control and facing the world as your truest expression. That is not devoid of your past, but above it, letting the demons lift you up to your future.

It has been a long journey to get here, but a path she would not walk back. It is also not an end, but a beginning.

For everyone facing injury or struggle, or for those of us living with demons never addressed, we sincerely hope that this story helps you. Fight. Push through. Then let your own story guide others too.

“I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.”

Special Thanks:

Dr Brett E. Smith DPM & Kyle Marchand PT, DPT

Those in healthcare don’t help others for the purpose of recognition. They are often not acknowledged for the roles they play in changing the lives of those they treat. These two clinicians made my life what it is today, and I am able to dance again because of their skill, kindness, expertise, and willingness to listen to my needs while helping me push through one of the hardest experiences of my life. I cannot thank them enough for all that they have done, and should you ever need a Podiatrist or a Physical Therapist, I will be the first in line to recommend them. Thank you from the bottom of this dancer’s soul for allowing me to express myself again. This one is for you both.


Bri Thatcher Photography | Ledbetter ProductionTreehouse Yoga | ATX Photo Studio

Music Attribution:

A Private Death  by Blue Sky Black Death

Way Down We Go by Kaleo

Woman (Oh Mama) by Joy Williams