Elmhurst dancer overcomes injuries and launches a new phase of her career

It took an injury to show Alison Wu that dance was her calling, and not just a hobby.
By Naeisha Rose

An injury to a dancer often results in the end of a career, but for Alice Wu, 18, it was just the beginning.

“I had an injury when I was 15 years old. It was during a ballet class. I did a big jump and I landed very wrong on my foot. I had to be admitted to the hospital,” said Wu, an Elmhurst native.

Wu fractured the metatarsal (long bones) in her foot, sprained her ankle and dislocated a toe at the end of a dance exercise during the late spring of her sophomore year at LaGuardia High School.

“I felt myself roll over my foot. I screamed and I fell. Everybody saw me land terribly on my foot. I was like. ‘Oh my god, what is happening,’” said Wu.

After crying in pain at the nurse’s office, she was rushed to Elmhurst Hospital.

“As soon as they took off the bloody ballet shoe, I felt the wind touch my open dislocation and it there was a sharp pain,” said Wu. “This was my first major injury… and I didn’t think I would dance again.”

Once her knee and ankle were realigned, Wu spent three months doing leg and toe exercises to regain muscle and movement in her foot. After a setback she had surgery on her leg and spent an additional three months doing physical therapy at the hospital. Soon, she was able to go back to school using crutches.

“I would come to dance classes everyday and watch my classmates,” she said. “I felt so sad being stuck in the back, not being able to move. I was broken inside.”

Right then and there Wu realized that dance was not a hobby for her, but her passion.

“Before the injury it was just something for fun, and at times it felt like a bit of a chore. Now I see that it was my talent, and I couldn’t just be nonchalant about it. I made a promise to myself during that time when I was on crutches that once I got back on my feet I would train harder and I would never skip class for any reason,” said Wu.

Wu graduated from LaGuardia and went on to study both dance and photography at Marymount Manhattan College. Shortly thereafter she was asked to dance for Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Company by Enrique Cruz DeJesus, its artistic director.

“He said that he loves how I can emit a certain character during a piece and also that my lines are very elongated,” said Wu cheerily.

By late October of last year, Wu was learning new choreography from DeJesus, some of which she performed in July for the company’s grand opening of its new dance theatre.

“I felt great. Enrique’s pieces are quite athletic-based, and they are fun. They require so much energy and exerting that felt so good,” said Wu.

Last month, Wu performed for the first time in Queens when Alpha

Omega took part in the Jamaica Dance Festival in Rufus King Park. This week, she started rehearsals with Alpha Omega as the company creates new dances for its next season. Their next performance, titled “A Tribute to Loretta Abbott,” is Sept. 26 at the MIST Harlem Theater.

“I’m just so excited for my hometown to see my work,” Wu said about peforming in her home borough. “Dance to me is exhilarating.

I can’t help but move. I won’t ever take it for granted again.”

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