Boone Grove High School student Jessica Lawton is looking forward to dancing in 2013 as a participant in the New Year’s Day Parade in London, England.
Lawton will perform with 200 other dancers from around the U.S. representing Universal Dance and Cheer Association.
More than 10,000 performers representing 20 countries will assemble for the 2013 parade, and an estimated half million spectators are expected to pack London's streets.
“I’m not an emotional person, but I cried – a lot,” Lawton said of receiving the news of her selection. “It was a crazy feeling that I don’t think I’ve felt before. Everyone was crying. It was crazy.”
Lawton has danced for seven years, performing jazz, pom, and hip hop with the school dance team. Last summer, she was one of six dancers to receive an All- American Dancer award by the National Dance Alliance during a four-day camp.
She was also given the title of Top All-American Dancer, recognizing her leadership and technique, and solidifying her spot on the London dance team.
“I love the thrill of dancing. Whenever I’m out there, I like to feed off of the vibes given from the crowd. Knowing that the audience enjoyed the performance really makes me happy,” she said.
Lawton became even more driven to succeed last year when she was diagnosed with a heart condition. “I suffer from Neurocardiogenic Syncope. Basically the connection from my brain to my heart is messed up, so when I dance, my brain doesn’t tell my heart to slow down, which leads me to pass out from lack of oxygen,” she said.
“My doctors told me I shouldn’t really be dancing as much as I do, since the only cure is to stop my heart rate from excelling. The doctors and my mom, especially, were really nervous.”
“But I was driven to get the Top All-American Award and I wasn’t going to hold myself back at all. I just like to prove people wrong with dance. I want to make a name for myself,” she said.
The daughter of Darrin and Janice Lawton, of Valparaiso, Jessica plans to attend Columbia College in Chicago this fall to study music business.
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