February 21, 2018: Marka Rodgers envisioned spending her life in the world of dance, particularly after being admitted to study with the renowned Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre at a relatively young age. And while she still is very much involved with dance today in her early 60s, it looks quite different than she once imagined.
Marka sustained and worked hard to overcome not 1 but 2 devastating spinal cord injuries. With the assistance of a wheelchair, a service dog, and some primo leg braces, Marka not only continues to dance, but also to teach dance.
In this episode of Move Forward Radio, she shares her fascinating life story—which included an unlikely stint as a firefighter—and conveys powerful lessons about determination, ingenuity, self-advocacy, and positive thinking.
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Marka Rodgers has been performing classical and modern ballet, along with dance for musical theatre since she was 9 years old. She studied at the Boston Ballet School and was offered a full scholarship at The Boston Conservatory, and then Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She also taught modern ballet in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for nearly 8 years. After a cervical spinal cord injury in 1994, she used her own ballet-based exercise program to help her recover. A second spinal cord injury in 2012 left her with an incomplete quadriplegia injury, and she now uses a wheelchair. She studied wheelchair dance and has since performed with a number of dance companies. Presently, she is continuing her training in yoga to be a certified yoga instructor, adapting it for all physical abilities.