How dyslexia became my superpower
4th June 2024

“dyslexia doesn’t define you, it just gives you special powers elsewhere”

These are the words of an incredible young lady. A very special talent, who, as a young girl lacked confidence in her ability at school, and grappled daily with feeling like she was “getting left behind”. A young girl who has since blossomed into a feircly determined, suprememly talented, hard working, competitive, yet kind and compassionate soul. Jess Taylor, who has been awarded a place at The Scottish Institute of Theatre, Dance, Film & Television, is an example to her peers and role model to the next generation of dancers coming through the ranks at DN Dance.

DN Spotlight: Jess Taylor

Jess Taylor Early Years Photo Collage

After learning that one of the younger dancers was struggling at school with dyslexia, Jess came to me and asked if I would share her story. She felt it might help others struggling with dyslexia to find some inspiration, to find their self confidence elsewhere like she has in dance. A typically “Jess” thing to do!

In Jess’s own words, this is her story:

Throughout primary school I struggled with words and reading. I felt like I was behind in class, and I wasn’t as confident as my classmates. However, when it came to dancing, I did feel confident. It was a place where I felt strong, a place where I could even help others who needed it. Somewhere I thrived. 

I found out I was dyslexic as I transitioned to high school. I was always taught that if a problem is thrown your way, just throw a solution straight back at it. So, I learned to speak up and get help in school, and I channelled my energy into the things I was good at, dancing and performing.

Having dyslexia can affect how you learn and memorise information, which impacts self-confidence. My brain simply doesn’t like to learn from words written on a page. However, memory and confidence are two key skills needed for dancing, and I felt quite strong in this. I wondered why that was, and I discovered that people with dyslexia often have strengths in other areas, like:

    • Wonderfully Imaginative
    • Strong Visual Memory.
    • Excellent Puzzle-Solving Skills.
    • Brilliant Visual Spatial Reasoning.
    • Great at Connecting with Others.

Dyslexia, ADHD, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and dyspraxia are diagnoses that can make certain methods learning difficult, and, as well as being a nightmare to pronounce, that is all they should be viewed as. I now realised that these diagnoses shouldn’t be viewed as a hurdle or disability, but simply as a guide to help us to find our preferred ways of learning, our strengths and talents in other fields, and for me that is dance (my happy place).

Knowing that other friends, family, and celebrities have had dyslexia and thrived, told me that dyslexia doesn’t define you it just gives you special powers elsewhere. I now know I am not alone, and if reading this blog (how ironic) helps just 1 more person, it will make me happy that they know they are not alone too.

We caught up with Jess’s mum too, as we wanted to hear her perspective on the journey Jess had been through with Dyslexia and Dance.

“When Jess was diagnosed with dyslexia, we finally had the answers to all the questions that we had been asking for, for years. Why does it take her so long to complete schoolwork? Why does she get so frustrated? Why does her work not make sense, when she has spent so long on it? We had seen the signs, but it had taken so long for diagnosis and support from school that, for Jess, dance became her happy place, her classroom, her world! No pressures, no frustration just release. Dance allowed her to be confident, to show the world that this defined her, not her dyslexia.

Jess loves to perform both on and off stage. Dance developed her passion for the arts, and she now incorporates acting and singing with DN. We worried that reading scripts, learning lines, and following music notation might affect her love of performing, but instead found that this love gave her the strength and determination to overcome the dyslexic barriers and allowed her to be the positive person she is today.

We honestly couldn’t be prouder of Jess and hope that this inspires others in similar situations to turn that negative into a positive with the right mindset and passion. Jess strives for perfection in everything she does, and over the years, she has learned that perfection is not always attainable but if you work with your strengths, they might just help your weaknesses!”

I reflected on this story for some time before sharing and I can’t help but attribute a Jess’s success, in part, to the courage and support shown by her family. I can only imagine that it took courage to support her in persuing her talents and interests when the presures of a society are all too often focused on academic endeavour as the only ‘safe’ or ‘valued’ future propsect. Also, the guidence and support that allowed her to develop the confidence she now exudes in dance and performing on any stage.

I have a tremendous respect for everything that Jess has achieved, and I only hope that this blog can give hope and inspiration to someone else embarking on a similar journey.

Written by Lindsay Bleakley


RAD Registered Teacher