Interview with Blogger Macy of Behind the Disability

Today on the blog, I am interviewing a very special friend of mine – one of my Big Sis’s Macy! Macy has always been a great friend of mine and in recent times she has also started her own blog – Behind The Disability. I have loved getting to know Macy over the years and be apart of her journey called life and I’m SO excited to give y’all a peek into the world of Macy Messer!!!

Tell me a bit about yourself!

Hi my name is Macy Messer and I am a sixth year student here at Meredith! I identify with the Class of 2019 but will graduate with the Class of 2022! I have been dancing for over twelve years and I have my own blog titled Behind The Disability! I have Cerebral Palsy and that has never stopped me from being as “normal” as possible!

What made you choose to go to Meredith College and what has been your favorite part of your college experience beyond dance?

Meredith was the first and only school I applied and got accepted to – ironically – because of the dance program; I wrote about dance in my application essay, which should’ve been a huge sign for my parents. I came to Meredith for the first time when I was 14 (ten years ago) to watch my big sister in the pageant world dance in their spring showcase, and she always spoke so highly of the head and the program itself.

My favorite part of my six year journey here so far will always be the four years I got with 2019, I have so many memories and I will always treasure them because you never get the four initial years back and those were the years that I loved

What else are you involved in at Meredith besides dance?

When 2019 was here I was involved more heavily, and I was involved with events and selling T-shirts and Corn packages; all those fun things. One of my really good friends and I made the slideshow for our Fire & Water ceremony, she and I also did our Guardian Angel and Tea for Two slideshows! My parents hosted props for our senior corn, we painted for HOURS and it was a lot of fun! So I was involved a lot more then, but I would love to get involved again in the last year and a half that I have!

Beyond Meredith and dance, you have a blog called Behind The Disability, tell me a bit about that!

I was a junior when I started my blog, and I’ve had such a fun time writing on it and just being unapologetically me! The name is so special because nobody looks at someone who’s disabled and thinks about what’s behind that, you know? What does this person love to do? What is it that drives them? They don’t think about those things because they only see a disability and not a person.

When did you start dancing?

I broke both bones in my dominant forearm in May 2008…and just three months later in August 2008 I started ballet! It’s funny now, wasn’t too funny then, but it is now!

What made you get into dancing?

I had the same nurse for eleven years and I was in 5th grade at the time, and if you’ve read my life story blog (highly recommend: Defining the Disability – This is Me) you’ll know that I had a really rough time with this nurse; it was bullying and a lot of manipulation so this instance was right before everything started. She suggested that I start dancing at our local studio where her daughter and my sister both danced, to this day I will swear that was the one and only good thing she ever did for me!!!

What types of dance have you done and what is your favorite type of dance?

I’ve done everything; I took a class in the beginning of my sophomore year of college where we did a week of each genre, like a week of ballet, then a week of improvisation etc.

My favorite genre of dance is a mix of lyrical, jazz, and contemporary. Tap is a recent favorite of mine as well which I never thought I would love tap like I do!

How were you involved in dance growing up?

From age eleven to age eighteen I was heavy, heavy ballet trained. It is the foundation of everything else and my parents wouldn’t let me do anything else because they were scared. From age nineteen onward I’ve been trained in ballet, modern, jazz, improv, and tap so far; I was supposed to take my first contemporary class last semester but I was injured and could not dance! My studio was a competitive studio but I wasn’t in the classes that went to competitions, my sister was!

How are/have you been involved in dance at Meredith?

I’ve been involved with Meredith Dance for five years; this is my fourth year as a performer and my third year as a choreographer. I haven’t had it easy but I wouldn’t have had it any other way; my journey made me who I am today, and I’m so thankful!

You switched your major to dance while at Meredith. Tell me about your journey to becoming a dance major!

My freshman and sophomore years I was working towards a BFA in Graphic Design because it was practical and I did enjoy it; about six weeks into my second semester of college I met Carol Finley! There’s a saying that goes “you know when you know” and I knew as soon as I met her! A couple days later I declared my minor in dance studies, and started my minor the following semester! Well, let’s fast forward a year; I’m a junior and the initial fangirl in me subsided and Carol and I have started to develop the most beautiful relationship. I go to her office one day and I just start texting her (that’s literally how we communicate when we do advising or whenever I’m in her office for whatever reason, it’s precious) and I’m like “I want to declare my major in dance and I know that’s going to get me in trouble but I do not care” and she looks at me with such a proud expression because I guess she knew deep down that I wanted to declare in dance but I was too scared, and she fought for me. I mean she FOUGHT like absolute hell, pure tooth and nail, for someone she had only known a year – someone she believed in – and a year of meetings and tears and fighting with my parents later, in 2018 – as a senior in college – I could finally call myself a dance major and say that I was getting my BA in Dance Studies. What YOU want, it is NEVER an easy journey but I promise when you find the person who is willing to fight like absolute hell for you while believing in you, it becomes a lot easier!

So, Meredith has a tradition called Cornhuskin’ that involves A TON of dancing! What has been one of your most memorable Cornhuskin’dances?

Oh gosh this is SO hard, but if I had to pick just one I would pick the last dance in my sophomore Corn; the last song in that dance was For Good from Wicked and we sang it to our Bigs (class of 2017) and I got to stand in front of my class and sign the portion of the song we were singing in ASL (my Big cried, it was so sweet), and on the last “for good” all my classmates signed with me. That just shows you how inclusive the Class of 2019 is and why I love being a part of them!

I know you have choreographed some dances at Meredith, tell me a bit about those!

Of the two pieces I have choreographed, I always gush about the duet because of just how special and memorable that piece will always be! Nola Grace Brown is my favorite human on this earth to dance with, and we both look back on this piece with such fondness and love! We were able to show how our friendship is centered around Christ and how much love was at the center of the piece itself! We surprised each other at our tech rehearsal three days prior to performing it live, we got each other SO good with our voiceovers; mine was a surprise to her and hers was a surprise to me, completely shocked, neither one of us knew, made for one of the best memories of that whole process! Our duet also made the gala concert, and I might’ve screamed like a banshee when I got the email and scrolled through; that was such a HUGE moment for me as a choreographer because I never thought my work would be good enough for the gala! The best memories came from that experience and I will forever cherish all of it!

Covid-19 has changed our world and how we perform to others, how have you coped with the changes in our world and shared your love and talent for dance during these times?

Covid…covid’s been a hard (but temporary) adjustment, but here’s the weird thing about it, I’m thankful for it. I was able to take a leave of absence when complications arose after my c-spine laminectomy (couldn’t dance because of the injury to my spine, so I had surgery so I would be better by now, short gist of it) and so I didn’t put any dance works out in the fall nor did I participate, but this semester I’m choreographing and performing. It’s literally the best feeling to be back and able to do what I love for the first time since early March, nothing quite like it

Who are some of your biggest inspirations in the dance world?

Carol, and I know that sounds so cliché to have your advisor and second mom be one of the biggest inspirations in your life, but it’s so so so true! Her name was mentioned to me at 14, and I never forgot how influential she was to my pageant sister. So when I finally got to dance under her I was such a fangirl for the first year; I was dancing under someone my big sister looked up to, and now I was under her wing and…I will never be able to thank her in the way she deserves to be thanked. I’m not her fan now, I’m her student and she’s my mentor, that just means more, you know?

Who are some of your biggest inspirations beyond the dance world?

My mom, and my sister; they struggle with invisible disabilities like OCD and ADHD and anxiety, I know it’s not easy even if they make it look that way and that’s why I look up to them so much! My Granny was a huge inspiration to me as well, she was such a light and never had a negative thing to say about anything or anyone, and she was a much better Christian than I could’ve ever been which inspired me to be better

You have overcome a ton of barriers throughout your dance journey, what is one thing that keeps you going through it all?

If you’re reading this and you know me at all, you know I’ve loved to break barriers all my life; the dance ones have been the most fun – and the most challenging – to break! Remembering the day I started twelve and a half years ago, I seriously didn’t think it would work out for me, but looking at where I am versus where I was then, I’m incredibly grateful that this is what God had planned for me even if it hasn’t been easy! As for the thing that keeps me going, or the person if you will, is 100% Carol Finley! I’ve been through a lot while in college: I’ve auditioned for one of the dance companies three times, I’ve had three majors in the span of a year, and just last semester I had to have surgery in the middle of the semester…through all of that Carol has been such a light, and I’m continuously blessed by the light – as well as the unconditional love – that she carries!

Here’s a bonus story: during my hospital stay after surgery, I obviously had to take a leave and my mom emailed Carol about it after I had texted her because my mom could explain the medical side better than I could. Well I had to forward myself the email conversation to get the Zoom link for the meeting to talk over the LOA, and I’m a big snoop so I read their email conversation and it turns out Carol asked my mom if it would be helpful if she came to WakeMed to visit, so that my mom could go home or go to work for a few hours, but Covid restrictions only allowed my parents and occasionally my sister! Y’all, if that doesn’t speak VOLUMES on our relationship – her really considering coming to Wake to sit with me for a few hours during a global pandemic – I really really don’t know what will! I would have 100% sobbed if she had been able to do that for me – and I know she would have – because it isn’t every day you meet someone who cares about you like that! 

You have also overcome and broken lots of barriers throughout your life. You’re truly an inspiration! What would you say to someone who is going through a tough time or feels as if they cannot do something?

Awww Katie, that’s so sweet! Overcoming what I have, it wasn’t easy in the slightest but I had a support system like five miles long, and I kept my faith even when it got tested! If i could say something to someone who feels the way that i did with dance or my life in general, if someone tells you you can’t, Prove. Them. Wrong. Make them eat their own words; post a picture of yourself doing what they said you never would! They will not underestimate you ever again; prove them wrong!

For someone that is inexperienced in dance (like myself), what are ways that those who want to get into dance can?

So I had a friend who was a sophomore, literally had one dance class under her belt, and auditioned for our spring showcase in 2018! She was in my dance and another choreographers dance, and she was so good; she became my roommate the following year and we’ve been close since! She had practically no experience and yet she still went for it! So if you want to dance or even just take classes, you can 100% do so! You do not have to be a dance major or minor to take a dance class! I love that about Meredith’s dance program, you don’t have to be a “dancer” to dance here!

What is your dream job and where do you hope to go in this world beyond your time at Meredith?

I want to teach, that’s been my dream job since I was first starting dance! My choreography style is so similar to Carol’s so I get to carry a piece of her with me wherever I end up after my time at Meredith ends; I don’t love talking about leaving because of who I’m leaving behind. I know that when all of my “lasts” with her line up and are happening, I know I’ll be a big baby because Carol is literally all that I have known for basically all of college; all that I have been able to do and achieve and learn, it’s all because she believed in me enough for the both of us…and that’s all I needed in the end! I’m one of the lucky ones, I have someone who makes saying goodbye literally impossible, I am so incredibly lucky to have the relationship that I have with her!!!

Lastly, what has been your favorite or favorites songs to dance to?

I have danced to so many different songs, oh my goodness wow!

  • Time In Between – Francesca Battestelli, freshman year of high school, first dance I was able to remember on my own, still kinda remember it now.
  • I Won’t Let Go – Rascal Flatts, senior year of high school, I literally remember this one so vividly because it was such a sweet duet and I surprised one of my good friends with a slideshow of memories from our time together and it was only like eleven in the morning and we had all day to be sad about my departure from my home studio, yeah that was a very hard day!
  • My Heart Will Go On from The Titanic played by Vitamin String Quartet, also senior year of high school, two in the afternoon and I really wanted to cry but I still had senior presentation that night, luckily I saved my tears for that because it was awful!
  • People Help the People – Birdy, sophomore year of college, first time back on stage after a year off and my first college showcase, I really remember this one because I did the show and I had to run to my dorm and change, go eat, then run back to campus for my (at the time) best friend’s senior vocal recital; I also remember it because it was one of the ones that made the gala concert and it also made me want to choreograph the following year, and the rest of college.
  • When I Look At You – Miley Cyrus + Rescue – Lauren Daigle, senior year of college, I will never forget the three performances of this duet for as long as I live; we took a beloved song and combined it with a song from an album that had dropped in September 2018 and the end result was so perfect in its own way. I’m so so fond of these two because they gave me my choreographic style and I spent the entire year planning it! Just something that’ll stick with me forever!
  • Fix You – Coldplay, we do this all the time in the dance program, Carol choreographed a warm up for it and we use it for like all the shows!!

From the minute I met Macy, she has always had this can do attitude. Macy is breaking barriers in this world, and she serves as a shining light for so many, including myself. Most importantly, she has been a great friend and continues to be one along with one of my Big’s at Meredith, like she has for so many others too.

XOXO – Katie <3


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