Stephanie Consiglio Leaps Over Life's Hardest Hurdles
Great dancers are hard to find. But what makes Stephanie Consiglio so remarkable is not only her serious hip-hop skills but her pursuit of fulfilling her passion no matter the circumstances. Three years ago, the now 14-year-old received life-changing news: doctors found cancerous Germ Cell Tumors in her pelvis. Even though Consiglio was subjected to six to eight hour long days of chemotherapy for four months, she always got to the hospital early so that she could attend dance classes afterward on time. Additionally, from her hospital bed, Consiglio posted videos on social media called “#StephsMessage” to spread positivity. What she didn’t know initially was how much of an impact her words would have on cancer patients worldwide. Stephanie started to receive messages from people who declared that she was a bright light in the midst of their own battles. As of March 2016, Consiglio is cancer-free and currently taking the dance industry by storm. In between dance conventions and fundraisers for “iDance4aCure,” Consiglio took the time to talk with me about her rewarding journey toward becoming the healthy and confident teen she is today.
How did you first get into dancing?
My parents enrolled me in a small dance studio around the corner from my house when I was 3 years old. I was always jumping up and down and they wanted me to find a way to exert all my energy. I started out attending class for just 45 minutes per week and now I train for 20-30 hours each week!
Why is dancing so special to you?
When I dance I feel totally free. I feel safe and at home--dance is truly the best form of medicine. It connects people and it can tell a story. For me, dance is just pure art.
What’s your favorite style of dance?
My two favorite styles of dance are contemporary and hip-hop.
Do you have a favorite solo you’ve performed?
In December of 2016, I was asked by Radio City Music Hall to perform my contemporary solo on the opening night of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Since my lifelong wish is to become a Rockette one day, this was truly a dream come true for me and my family. My absolute favorite solo would have to be the one I performed that night which was “Awakening,” choreographed by Tommy Tibball. It told the story of how I was “awakening” out of the darkness.
How did dancing help you get through treatment?
When you are undergoing chemotherapy treatment, it can affect your body in many different ways. Very often, it causes your blood counts to drop and raises your chances of infections and other diseases. When I would go each week for my bloodwork, my doctors were amazed at how well my blood levels were and how my body responded to the chemo. They believed that it was because I danced throughout treatment and kept my body moving. Dancing also gave me an emotional outlet, as the emotional side effects of cancer are sometimes worse than the physical side effects. Dance was something that could control and when I was dancing, I didn’t think about having cancer. In my heart, I know that dance saved my life.
Your story has inspired so many people worldwide, even renowned photographer Jordan Matter, whom you've shot with many times. What is it like working with him?
Jordan Matter actually reached out to me three years ago, before I was diagnosed with cancer, and expressed interest in shooting with me. I was able to work with him a few times after I was in remission and collaborating with him was truly incredible. He reached out to me last year and expressed interest in doing a ten-minute video challenge at the hospital I was treated at. I am an ambassador at Cohen Children's Medical Center, and I was honored to be able to go and spread joy to the patients there. It was a very emotional project for both of us, but in the end, we were really able to change the lives of many of the patients there that day. It allowed me to continue to spread my message of kindness, joy, and positivity--it is one of the highlights of my life. Jordan Matter is a very special human being and I couldn’t imagine doing a project like that with anyone else.
You also got to attend Instagram Prom this past year. What was that like?
In May of 2018, I was invited by Instagram to attend their first ever “Instagram Kindness Prom," an event that honored teens from around the country who are positive influences on social media and in their communities. The prom was one of the coolest events that I have ever attended! I met so many hard working, inspiring teens that are working to make a difference in the world and promote kindness towards others. I am now an ambassador for Instagram, as well as one of their “#teeninfluencers.” I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with Instagram and be a voice for our generation.
What are your future plans?
I am now attending Fiorello LaGuardia High School in NYC as a dance major and I am thrilled to start this new chapter in my life. I plan on spending the next four years really focusing on my dance training and continuing to work with different organizations to give back to my community. My dream since I was three years old has been to be a Rockette, and I know that I will one day be able to call Radio City my home. I would also like to start a non-profit organization that combines my love of dance with helping children who are struggling. This September, I will be hosting my 2nd annual dance marathon, which is an all-day event that raises money for cancer research. I hope to grow the marathon each year so it can eventually occur nationwide. In the end, I am most happy when I am on stage and performing, so my goal is to get on stage and perform for others as much as possible! I hope to inspire younger dancers to keep training, stay focused, and dream big! Since I was a little girl, I have always said they my dreams are not a question, they are a statement. I certainly have a lot of dreams that I plan on making come true.
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You can also check out her ten-minute video challenge with Jordan Matter here.