A ballerina’s comeback 21 years after tragedy
Christa Calitz buried her dreams when she was just a teenager. She envisioned becoming a professional ballet dancer, tiptoeing on stage, enthralling an audience. She’d been working for it since she was five. But at the age of 17, the broken door of her school bus opened and Calitz fell out. The bus kept moving, dragging Calitz under the wheel, and leaving her left foot hanging by a single artery. Doctors wanted to amputate her lower leg. Calitz refused, despite the warnings that she may never walk again. After two years of reconstructive surgeries and painful rehabilitation, Calitz fought her way back onto her feet. But by then, she’d abandoned her hopes of ever returning to the stage.
“I didn’t watch any dance shows, wasn’t involved in dance at all anymore,” Calitz says. “It was devastating.” She moved on with her life, travelled the world and started a family. But something was always missing. Twenty one years after her accident, Calitz’s youngest child put on a tutu and mirrored her mother’s forgotten aspirations. Watching her daughter move across the studio, Calitz’s old ambitions were reignited. “I was inspired to pick myself up and take a new leap of faith,” Calitz says. She started at the beginning, attending dance classes. Slowly but surely, her muscles remembered the moves she had once perfected. It’s now been two years since Calitz put her flats back on, and as she pirouettes there are no signs of her old injury. “Every day I become stronger,” she says.
Two decades after her accident, Calitz has returned to her lifeblood. “My tragedy doesn’t define me,” she says. While she struggled to overcome her trauma, Calitz is on the path of reviving her passion. Today, twirling with her daughter, Calitz is the image of strength. In the face of adversity, hold fast to your dreams.