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22 in Motion Volume 21, Issue 5 September/October 2011

Before long the Fullers noticed their daughter’s love of music and, against the advice of her pediatrician, they enrolled Paulina in dance classes just before her third birthday.

Paulina says she doesn’t know why she loves to dance; she “just does.” She has also said that dancing is “like breathing” for her. Lorraine says her daughter “will often dance until her legs are bleeding.” Paulina adds, “It hurts, but I don’t notice that, or that they are bleeding – until I stop.” Paulina likely also doesn’t notice the reaction she gets from the audience when she’s on stage, as she seems to be in her own happy place when she dances.

“Paulina’s commitment absolutely amazes me,” says Mandy Dudik, choreographer at Central Texas Academy of Perform-ing Arts in Clifton, and Paulina’s dance instructor for the past 5 years. “When you meet her in person she

is quiet and reserved, but when she gets on stage she explodes with passion and personality. She leaves everyone who is watching emotionally moved in some way.”

Paulina says dancing simply makes her feel happy. Onstage, her million-dollar smile and confdence give no indication this pre-teen is actually shy and introverted. She explains through a conversation with her dad, “When you’re performing, everyone is watching you – why isn’t that a problem?” She replies, “I want them to watch me, just not look at me.”

At 12, she’s already made a name for herself at dance competitions, raking in awards and kudos from around the industry. Two years ago, Paulina began attending dance conventions “Monsters of Hip Hop”

and “The PULSE on Tour.” Paulina won lifetime scholarship awards at each event. The PULSE scholarship was awarded by Emmy-award winning choreographer Mia Michaels of So You Think You Can Dance .

Although her favorite dance style is hip-hop because “it has more action to it,” Paulina also performs tap, jazz, freestyle, ballet and pointe. She dances both with and without prosthetic legs and explains, “I prefer dancing without them for solos because I dance better. But in group dances, I do better with them.”

Because the ankles of Paulina’s prosthetic legs did not bend, she was told she would never do pointe, the style of classical ballet in which a dancer uses “pointe” or toe shoes and dances on the tips of her toes.

But determined 9-year-old Paulina didn’t like to be told no.

In Paulina’s words, “I wanted to do pointe, so I asked Dr. Herring and he made it happen.” She drew a picture of some pointed legs for him and a short time later the prosthetists at TSRHC made her frst set of specialized pointe legs.

“Paulina’s regular prosthe-ses are very specialized to work with her foot on the left,” explains Dr. Herring. “I don’t know of another child here [at TSRHC] or elsewhere who has such a prosthetic modifcation. In addition, her dancing prostheses, which are for ‘en pointe’ toe work in ballet, are truly unique.”

So unique that Capezio, a specialist manufacturer of dance shoes, apparel and accessories, just crafted Paulina a pair of one of-a-kind pointe shoes. She recently toured the Capezio warehouse and offces outside New York City and enjoyed a shopping spree at the famed dance apparel company’s fagship store on Broadway in Manhattan.

Paulina has met interesting people and has many funny stories. And whether she realizes it or not, she has already changed others’ lives just by being her.

Nearly 10 years ago while waiting to be served at an ice cream shop, Paulina was busy chasing her older brothers, not realizing a Vietnam veteran in a wheelchair was watching. Later he approached them with tears in his eyes and shared that the determined little girl running around on her two prosthetic legs had inspired him. He had given up on his prosthetic leg long ago, but seeing Paulina made him realize

Paulina Fuller

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