What’s your story?
The Georgian community is full of unique, inspiring perspectives —and we’re sharing them as part of an ongoing series.
People of Georgian: Meet Antonio Sardella
My mom said I was dancing before I was even born.
Every time she would put the music on, she’d see her belly dancing.
So, as I grew up in Italy, I was that kid who said “I want to dance” while all the other kids were telling their dads, “I want to play soccer.”
I started dancing when I was eight years old. Then at 14 I moved to Florence to a professional dance academy.
I got my first professional contract at age 15, and from there I travelled the world. I’ve been on TV, national tours, theatres, radio, all over Italy and Europe. Then I started performing on cruise ships.
I’ve been to more than 50 countries doing what I love.
I also became an aerialist: I was flying (dancing in the air), performing on silks, trapeze and other aerial apparatuses.
I stayed there for a year until my body broke to pieces because I was pushing too much. I was doing five, six shows a day.
I got a ton of injuries that landed me in a wheelchair.
‘I would be lucky if I got back to walking’
I went from being able-bodied – my body was my temple, my money-maker, my everything – to feeling paralyzed with herniated discs and protrusions and knees that needed replacing.
Deep down, I knew I was never going to go back to dancing. I would be lucky if I got back to walking.
I went into a deep, dark hole of depression where I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life.
All I had done was dancing and performing, I needed a big life change.
That’s when I decided to move to Canada.
At first I hated it because it was -40 C in the winter and I didn’t want to live in an “ice box” – but then I got into teaching dance to little kids and loved it.
Plus, I had the time to help my body recover.
I found my own strength because I lost it.
Antonio Sardella, Georgian student and international dancer
Eventually, I took a personal training course to help others grow stronger, and I also started teaching more dance classes and judging local, national and international dance competitions.
I wanted to work more deeply with people’s injuries, and I wound up in Georgian’s Occupational Therapist Assistant and Physiotherapist Assistant program.
Now I’m figuring out where my new path is headed. I want to incorporate my background as a performer, plus personal trainer experience, and occupational and physical therapy.
I really like being able to tell others that you can do it even if it seems impossible. I found my own strength because I lost it.
Antonio Sardella, international student and dancer from Torino, Italy, in Georgian’s Occupational and Physical Therapy Assistant program and a mentor with Georgian’s Peer Mentor program.
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