Lion King dancer delivers message of perseverance, self-belief to local girls in OTR

Updated: Jan. 20, 2020 at 10:02 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Professional ballet dancer Paige Fraser got her big break at the age of 10, when she was cast as Clara in a production of the Nutcracker.

“It was all over the news,” she told FOX19 NOW. “And around that time is when I saw and felt people believing in me and seeing something in me.”

It’s a message Fraser hoped to communicate when she met 45 girls in Over-the-Rhine Monday for an event hosted by The Brown Girls Project.

Tiffany Ware, the project’s creative director, describes it as an organization dedicated to celebrating the beauty and talents of African-American women and girls while enlightening, encouraging and empowering them through self-esteem building workshops and social events.

Fair to say, the audience was receptive to Fraser’s story—not just her beginning as an African-American girl from the Bronx, but her perseverance through the medical diagnosis that followed.

Today Fraser is touring with Lion King, The Musical, which is anchored at the Aronoff Center through Feb. 2.

She has also worked with Beyonce, Jussie Smollet and model Chanel Iman while taking part in international campaigns for Intel, ESPN and Elle Magazine.

In all those undertakings, she has performed with the beauty, precision and effortless grace of a world-class dancer.

But it wasn’t always that way.

At the age of 12, Fraser was diagnosed with scoliosis—troubling for the average person, devastating for a dancer.

“At 13 years old, this is a lot of information to take in, especially when you know you want to dance professionally and you’re seeing an x-ray and you can’t believe that’s what your spine looks like,” Fraser explained.

It didn’t stop her, though. Rather than quitting, Fraser underwent treatment. She donned a back brace. She continued to train and travel the world.

Now Fraser fights to bring awareness to scoliosis throughout the world with her namesake charity, the Paige Fraser Foundation.

TPFF works to create safe spaces for dancers in the Bronx. It also focuses on raising awareness for scoliosis research and nonsurgical treatment.

“What I want people to take away from my story is, do not give up on your dreams,” she said.

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