Athlete Spotlight - Kira Olivares
by Stephen Miwa
“Never settle; always work. If you’re not happy find a place where you are happy.”
Every individual has a happy place that can compel the feeling of joy. For Kira Olivares, that happy place is on the dance floor. Dancing has been Kira’s life for the last fifteen years, and she is currently a dance major at Loyola University Chicago. However, when Kira tore the labrum in one of her hips, it brought with it a new perspective and appreciation for dance.
At first not realizing that she had torn her labrum, Kira initially thought that her hip pain and movement constraints were due to lack of strength. She pushed through the pain but it began affecting her everyday life; she was not able to sleep well, she was not able to stand for long with the weight on her hip, and her hip felt like it was constantly rolling out of place. Kira dealt with all these issues for almost six months before having an MRI and finding out that she had in fact torn her labrum. She was scheduled for surgery the next day and began her rehab process shortly thereafter, but the time off dance gave her the opportunity to ponder her future in a new perspective.
Kira is currently working towards a double major at the Loyola University of Chicago in Spanish and Dance. With the understanding that bilingual individuals are always in high demand, once her dance career is done she would like to utilize her bilingual skills as a Physician’s assistant. The dance program at Loyola is unique when compared to dance at other schools. It is a ballet based program that integrates modern contemporary work. The program is also focused on social justice and integrating alternative medicine with dance. The Parkinson’s Project is one of the many ways that Loyola is combining medicine with dance. It was created to help those with the disease deal with their symptoms through dance. The diversity within the program was a major factor that compelled Kira to pursue her dance education at Loyola. “We are learning to be more well-rounded people than just dancers.” Kira continues, “I feel it is one of the benefits of being there.”
With the memory of surgery fresh in her mind and also knowing that a career in dance can be difficult and instable, Kira has put a time limit on how long she wants to pursue her dream. She plans on completing her undergraduate degree and then aspires to dance professionally for a year or two. “I do want to see myself as a professional dancer at some point because I’ve worked this hard at it for so long.” She continues, “My ultimate goal would be to be part of the Hubbard Street Dance.” After her time as a professional dancer, Kira has entertained the prospective idea of raising a family while working as a Physician’s Assistant.
Kira has spent the majority of her life dancing, but she knows that her remaining time as a dancer is limited and could abruptly end if another serious injury were to occur. “As a dancer or as (any) other athlete, if you are hurting you need to take care of it right away.” Kira continues, “Don’t wait six months like I did being in pain for that time.” She offers this final thought, “You’re not going to miss out as much as you think you will. Your health is more important.” This is the sentiment that she wants to keep with her throughout the rest of her dance career as well the next phase of her life working in the medical field.