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Treatment proves there’s no stopping dance student Abigail.

A minor miracle has meant a Roehampton dance student suffering from scoliosis can continue her studies, leading towards her dream of performing professionally and owning a dance company after she graduates.

Posted: 16 September 2014

image for news story Treatment proves there’s no stopping dance student Abigail.
Abi Smallwood practising in one of the University's dance studios

When Abi Smallwood, discovered she had scoliosis, which causes the spine to curve sideways, she feared it could be the end of her career as a dancer. It seemed the only treatment available was a major operation which would have stopped her dancing for nine months, reduced her flexibility and seen metal rods implanted in her spine.

That could have meant an emotional end to her ambitions, but after lots of research her family discovered the Scoliosis SOS treatment at a London clinic. Following a month-long regime of intensive muscle strengthening exercises designed especially for her she, is now overjoyed to be starting her second year at the University.

Abi, 19, will be in Roehampton for one term before jetting off on the University’s study abroad scheme to Manhattanville College in New York. She will have to continue with a strict exercise regime for the rest of her life to strengthen specific muscles, but it means she can still follow her passion.

Abi, from Kent, said: “When I was offered surgery I knew something had to change and this most definitely wasn’t going to be giving up dancing. I knew when I got my place to study at Roehampton that it was my dream and I’ll do anything to get that dream. My first year was incredible, I loved every minute and my second year can’t come soon enough. I’m hoping to join as many dance classes as I can to gain more experience and meet new people, which I love.

“Whenever I’ve needed help whether it’s practical or theoretical, my lecturers are always there to help me. Even if it’s just to do with the University itself there are always staff around to talk to who can help.”

Dr Ann R David, Head of the Department of Dance, said: “Abi has been through a lot to pursue studies and we have been impressed with her dedication. The treatment she has received will give her the best chance of success, and as she says, staff at the University will support her all the way. As teachers, we enjoy working with students who love what they are studying and have plans for the future based on what they have learnt with us.”

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