Scoliosis is a medical condition in which a person's spine is curved from side to side.
“Knowing that there was a chance (Julia) might not dance again, Julia kept saying ‘I will, I will dance again,’” said Lisa Toups, artistic director of GMDT since 1996.
Three years before Julia was diagnosed, her older brother, Daniel, received the same diagnosis and required surgery. Though Julia faithfully wore a brace in an effort to ward off surgery, the disease was so insidious she went under the knife at age 14. Julia’s orthopedic surgeon understood the importance of dance in her life and tailored the surgery to maximize mobility.
Five months after surgery, Julia returned to GMDT on a limited basis but she dances every day. “She worked through so many things with the surgery. She had to realign her body and get her brain to understand the realignment that had to happen. She never, ever, ever gave up — never,” Toups said.
“What I was most worried about was that I wouldn’t be able to dance the way I was used to, and my teachers wouldn’t be able to work with me,” said Julia, a Marietta native who enjoys Pointe, jazz and modern dance. She is the daughter of Alan and Carol Dupree.
Thrown back to the basics, Julia endured pain and soreness but her teachers and fellow classmates always encouraged her.
“They were all so supportive when I had to completely relearn dance technique and never looked down on me as a weak dancer,” said Julia, who intends on majoring in speech and language pathology at UGA, with a minor in dance. She hopes to dance in college, and teach and choreograph in the future.
Having the support of my dance studio was such an incredible gift, and I would not be dancing today without my teachers and classmates,” said Julia, a member of Beta Club and National Honor Society. She also writes for the student newspaper and was a Governor’s Honors finalist last year.
Julia never gave into defeat.
“Julia is very passionate and hardworking. Because Julia is so charming, so polite, so kind and hard working (GMDT) just wanted to try to help her work through this if possible. She never gave up, so we weren’t going to give up either,” Toups said.
Along with physical challenges, Julia endured emotional adversity as well.
“It was emotional thinking that there was a possibility that (Julia) might come out and not be able to move. She is a remarkable young woman. She has handled much adversity through her drive, loyalty and passion for dance. She is much admired and a role model for many,” Toups said.
“Because Julia believed in herself it was easy for us to believe in her. It’s a remarkable accomplishment for her,” Toups said.
To learn more about GMDT visit georgiametrodance.org.