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Kaylee Bays: The inspirational dancer with Ehlers-Danlos

Updated On:
March 2024
David Harris

In a heart-stirring episode of "So You Think You Can Dance" (SYTYCD) in Season 18, viewers were introduced to a group of incredibly talented dancers, each bringing their unique style and story to the stage. Among them, Kaylee Bays, also known as "Slaylee," stood out not just for her performance but as a profound statement of resilience and determination in the face of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a degenerative condition she was diagnosed with at 21.

Kaylee Bay's performance on ”So You Think You Can Dance“

The judges, touched by her spirit and skill, unanimously gave Kaylee three yeses, affirming her place in the next round of the competition. This decision highlighted the show's recognition of dance's diverse expressions and the importance of inclusivity within the arts. Kaylee's journey is a testament to the power of adaptability and the strength of the human spirit in overcoming challenges posed by physical conditions like EDS.

Normalizing occasional use of mobility aids

Her performance also highlights the fact that many people with Ehler-Danlos Syndrome only use mobility aids some of the time. Many people hold incorrectly believe that a wheel chair user always needs to be in a wheel chair, but for many people with hypermobile EDS, mobility aids are only needed occassionaly. The decision to use a mobility aid comes with a lot of stigma. For many people, especialy younger people, it's a very hard decision  to make, especially when strangers make comments about how the user is faking it or somehow isn't disabled enough. Kaylee Bay's advocacy is particularly important in normalizing the occasional use of wheel chairs and other mobility aids.

Kaylee Bays' Background

Originally from The Bay Area and moving to Los Angeles at 17, Kaylee trained at The American Music and Dramatic Academy in Musical Theatre. Now 27 and navigating life with EDS, which significantly impacts connective tissues leading to constant pain and tissue deterioration, Kaylee has adapted her passion for dance to her changing physical abilities. Using a wheelchair, she has learned to express herself through dance, moving with the aid of the floor and her chair, proving that her spirit and talent transcend physical limitations. Her performance echoed her profound declaration to the judges, "I will dance until I’m dancing with my eyes," encapsulating her unwavering commitment to dance despite the progression of her condition.

In addition to her remarkable audition on SYTYCD, Kaylee's artistic journey includes significant roles in projects like "The Ring You Love Most" (2023), where she showcased her acting skills, and "Dance with Nia" (2021), further highlighting her versatility as a dancer and performer. Her participation in "Jax Writes Songs" (2020) as a dancer underscores her multifaceted talent and her advocacy for those living with disabilities in the arts.

Dancing to Success with EDS

As the season progresses, it will be fascinating to see how Kaylee and other dancers adapt to the choreographic challenges ahead, further pushing the boundaries of dance and showcasing the inclusivity and adaptability at the heart of the arts. Kaylee's story serves as an inspiration not just to those within the EDS community but to anyone facing obstacles, reminding us of the power of passion, creativity, and determination in the face of adversity.

The episode was a vivid reminder of the transformative power of dance, not just as an art form but as a medium for personal expression and resilience. As SYTYCD continues to celebrate diversity and talent, it remains a beacon for aspiring dancers everywhere, encouraging them to pursue their dreams, regardless of the challenges they may face.

There are many celebrities, athletes, and other famous people with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and other Connective Tissue Diseases. Read more about them here.

For a deeper insight into Kaylee Bays' inspiring audition and journey, visit her IMDb profile, follow her on Instagram, or watch her audition on YouTube.

Click here to watch "So You Think You Can Dance" (SYTYCD) in Season 18 (First aired on March 11, 2024)

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