By Lisa Sigell

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — For many girls, being a ballerina is a dream. 13-year-old Camille Kellems is no different.

“When I was around 3, I started dancing and wanted to pursue it,” Kellems said.

Now, she is preparing for one the lead roles in The Nutracker with the Maple Youth Ballet in Irvine. She’s also sharing something most people don’t know about her. She has Scoliosis.

“It just means that I have a curvature of the spine. My shoulder blades stick out and sometimes my ribs do too,” Kellems said.

In many cases, it can be extremely painful, and sometimes surgery is needed. So far, Camille’s case has not been that severe, but she wears a brace every night.

“I was 11 when I found out, and I was scared. Would I not be able to dance anymore?” Kellems wondered.

Her mom says the diagnosis was frightening, but she says Camille has an amazing attitude.

“We think of it like this. She has to wear braces on her teeth, so she wears the brace on her back to hopefully straighten it out,” her mother said.

Training to be a ballerina is intense at the Maple Conservatory of Dance, but Camille’s doctors didn’t tell her she would have to give up her dream. In fact, they said ballet could only help.

For many young people, Scoliosis is something embarrassing.

“Don’t be afraid. It’s one little flaw in you and everybody has flaws,” Kellem said.

She hopes to help others kids by telling her story. “There’s just something pushing me, saying I want to inspire other dancers who have this to keep going,” she said.

For more information on Maple Youth Ballet’s The Nutcracker, visit Maple Conservatory.

To information on Scoliosis, visit National Scoliosis Foundation and Scoliosis Research Society.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (6)
  1. Brenda says:

    What a great story! So inspiring!

  2. Judith Lipin says:

    I love your positive attitude. I would like you to know that there is a support group in Orange County. We have many Scoliosis Support Group Meetings during the year. If you are interested, please email We are chapter #56 of the Scoliosis Association, Inc. There are over 35 chapters of the association located all over the United States and Canada.

  3. TreatingScoliosis says:

    Such an inspiration for scoliosis patients young and old. You don’t have to give up on the things you love or the dream s you have because of your scoliosis.

  4. Beth says:

    How severe is your scoliosis? What degree? My 14 year old daughter has an elevation of one shoulder near her neck and a slightly higher hip. She has also been studying ballet since she was very young and her pediatrician just referred her to an orthopeadic specialist to determine if it might be due to scoliosis. She is planning to go away for a 5 week summer intensive in June and we are concerned about a scoliosis diagnosis.

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