Crystal Nicholls (Danielle Da Silva, courtesy Nicholls)

In the fall of my senior year of high school, I had a plan for my professional dance career: After graduating, I'd leave my home in Barbados and travel to NYC to audition for the world-renowned Ailey/Fordham BFA program. I'd graduate with honors, work with several amazing companies in NYC, and then make it big on Broadway.

But my plan came to a crashing halt during an ill-fated rehearsal that September. I dislocated my patella, which caused the most blinding, dizzying pain. A few hours later, my knee had swollen to the size of a baseball. I couldn't put any weight on it, much less dance on it.

My Ailey/Fordham audition was two months away. I was devastated, certain that my dreams were over.

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