Positively JAX: Dance instructor shares rare health condition battle through dance routine

The routine has won awards at several competitions

Allison Reeder talking to her students about a dance routine. (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A local dance teacher, Allion Reeder, turned her lengthy health journey into art.

Reeder was diagnosed with Cavernous Angioma — a brain malformation — 10 years ago at the age of 18.

The condition keeps her from doing the activity she loves most — dancing.

Because of the condition, Reeder was having debilitating migraines and was struggling in her dance classes.

“My foot couldn’t keep up,” Reeder said. “It was stuttery. I could feel like I wanted to do it, but my foot couldn’t make the noises in tap, or it would get stuck in ballet.”

A neurosurgeon finally ordered her an MRI, which showed the malformation. It’s the size of a golf ball, and it’s made up of mangled blood vessels that had bled out, affecting her right foot when she dances.

“I walk fine you would never know,” she said.

Reeder decided to put this journey into a dance routine to commemorate the decade-long battle with the disease.

Four dancers were chosen to dance in this routine, and one of them plays Allison.

During the routine, you can see the dancer who plays Allison struggle while the other dancers push her down. The other dancers symbolize brain malformation.

“It takes a lot to be able to move an audience and I remember the second time we did it, I looked to my left and right and people were tearing up,” Reeder said.

The dancers said they also feel the emotion.

“Having to be the struggle, I feel like I can see what Ms. Allie is going through and I can feel like this is a serious matter,” Maiya Hayes, a dancer, said.

“This is something that’s weighing her down and you can feel that weight when you’re portraying it,” Amydia Diallo, a dancer, said.

Reeder told News4JAX she is grateful the choreography depicts her life and can be shown by other dancers since she can’t dance it herself.

“Seeing your art on stage you’re with them because you know all the moves you know what they’re supposed to be feeling,” she said.

Doctors are keeping an eye on Reeder’s malformation, hoping it doesn’t impact other parts of her body.

The routine has won awards at several competitions. She also submitted the routine for the Art of Surviving competition, which features artists who have brain tumors.

Reeder won the performing arts and adult categories in that competition.

About the Author:

Brie Isom joined the News4JAX team in January 2021 after spending three years covering news in South Bend, Indiana.