Who Said I’d Never Dance Again?

A Journey from Hip Replacement Surgery to Athletic Victory

More than twenty-two million Americans watch—eyes glued to the TV screen—as dancers move swiftly and smoothly across the dance floor. More than 250,000 others get off the couch and participate in dance studios, dance competitions, and dance organizations across the country.

Until now, no one watching could imagine that someone with an artificial hip could move so deftly on the dance floor. Many viewers don’t have the physical flexibility and stamina to dance with their own joints, let alone an implanted one.

Who Said I’d Never Dance Again? is the first book about ballroom dancing to address a painful yet victorious comeback after joint replacement surgery, and the rigorous physical and mental strength required to make it happen. It also includes moving stories of other athletes, inspiring quotes, and recommendations for action for the reader.

Many readers of Who Said I’d Never Dance Again? who face physical challenges will discover that you sometimes have to say “No!” to the limited expectations of others and succeed beyond measure despite them.

This may not be easy to do in the face of your current physical reality, but you have to set your mind to achieve your goal anyway. Whether that goal is to win a sports championship or regain stability so you can walk without pain, this book will provide guidance and inspiration to do so.

Dance enthusiasts, read Who Said I’d Never Dance Again? to peek behind the curtain of ballroom events and learn more about what it takes to be successful. If you are among the millions not actively engaged in the sport, you will be amazed at how rigorous dancing is and how it impacts your body. You will also feel the tension of competition and understand why a female dancer must be more than someone with a pretty gown and nice makeup to make it to the top.

This book is an inspiration for those considering or enduring a hip replacement, which impacts more than 300,000 people each year in the United States (other estimates are as high as 465,000). Sixty-three percent of patients are female.

The book will show you that the pain and discomfort are only for a season and that you can regain motion and engage in activities once healing comes. It will motivate you to be aggressive with your physical therapy, knowing that there is a pain-free enjoyment of many activities afterward.

Who Said I'd Never Dance Again by Darla Davies

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Darla Davies’ journey to ballroom dance champion after hip replacement surgery
From surgery to superstar

The title of a memoir from ballroom champion Darla Davies, “Who Said I’d Never Dance Again?” is a question not far from any dancer’s mind whenever they have an injury. First they wail, “I’ll never dance again!” Then it becomes, “Will I ever dance again?” And when they are healed, they ask, “Who said I’d never dance again?” In the case of many dancers, the answer is, “Me.”

But for Darla Davies, it was an unnamed orthopedist she calls Dr. Wise because he so clearly wasn’t. He told her if she had hip replacement surgery, she would never dance again.

First, that’s quite an arrogant declaration!

Second of all, for a competitive ballroom dancer, there is no greater motivation than a challenge like that. Davies did indeed dance again after her surgery – all the way to Pro Am champion!

Darla Davies’ story begins not with dance, but with horses. Much like dancing, which appears effortless and graceful to the untrained eye, riding horses looks deceptively simple yet requires a tremendous amount of leg and torso strength, balance and consistent effort. After twenty-five years, burned out from the daily grind and with osteoarthritis pain creeping up on her, Darla left what she calls the “horsey” life and discovered both her husband and ballroom dancing, not necessarily in that order.

A gifted athlete who also enjoyed and excelled at tennis and golf, Davies picked up dance very quickly. As a natural competitor, she found the ballroom dance world enticing. Her future husband, Jim Maranto, was a two-time United States Professional American Smooth Ballroom Dance Champion when they met, and he became her partner in Pro Am competitions. Davies progressed from beginner to advanced competitions in less than five years.

The pain she had while riding, unfortunately, also progressed quickly. Her normal routine of Epsom salt soaks and topical pain relievers were no longer enough to curb her pain. In the book, Davies describes the movements necessary to perform certain dance styles such as Rhythm and Latin, movements that place exceptional strain on the legs and hips. Many ballet and modern dancers will recognize the similarities of certain steps and the physical efforts necessary to perform them.

She turned to Rolfing for some relief.

Alas, the intensity of the hands-on bodywork did not alleviate her pain.

She turned to a chiropractor next.

Still no relief from the pain.

Davies tried acupuncture as a final non-surgical resort.

It was not a magic cure for Davies, although it was “a few hours of nice music and relaxation.” (Davies, p.6)

She also tried physical therapy and HYALGAN® injections, none of which offered any lasting relief from the pain.

Although Davies downplays these treatments in just a few pages, it’s important to know everything she went through so a reader understands it wasn’t a rash decision on her part to have hip replacement surgery. As she details the path she took, the consultations she had with various doctors, a reader will empathize with the feedback (and in some instances, pushback) she received from not just professionals but also friends – even after her surgery. One friend bluntly questioned her determination to become a dance champion again to which Davies replied, “The butterfly with the broken wing will fly twice as high,” a phrase which would become her mantra (p. 70) during her recovery and especially when faced with adversaries.

Davies spends much of her book detailing the recovery process, both physical and mental, after the surgery. All of this insight is incredibly helpful to dancers who are concerned about what will happen to them if they have this surgery.

What sets Davies’ memoir apart from more traditional “recovery” stories and makes this book relatable for athletes and for dancers who are not in the ballroom world are two things:

Darla’s Tips – her advice at the end of each chapter that addresses various issues readers might be experiencing, such as tips for patients in pain, questions to ask a professional, how to set rehabilitation goals and more.

Inspirational Tales – she relates the personal stories of celebrity athletes and dancers who went on to great heights within their fields, such as Wayne Sleep of the Royal Ballet, figure skater Rudy Galindo, and swimmer Diana Nyad.

The individual stories of more famous people fall into two categories: those who went through the hip replacement surgery successfully and those who are mature athletes. Reading about all of these people, even if they are not in the dance world, is tremendously inspirational. Davies studied sports psychology and believes dancers should take from it the lessons inherent in playing the “mental game.” Sports – and dance – is not just a physical game but a mental one and getting “outside your head” is critical to becoming a top athlete.

Believe that another victory is coming your way.

LEIGH PURTILL via Dance Advantage

“Being in the medical profession, I learned a lot from a patient’s perspective. The book offers many good pre and post-surgery tips. I enjoyed the interjected quotes from others placed throughout the book, most very inspiring.  The author shows so much determination and would be an inspiration to those looking at any kind of surgery.  4 stars!”

Robin M. via Netgalley

“An inspirational story!  Darla Davies really inspired me with her story as she took me on her journey through her struggle to overcome adversity and become a champion dancer!  I truly felt like she really cares about my own challenges and personal journey in the way she speaks to the reader and with the tips she gives throughout the book.  Anyone would enjoy reading this story! And there is much to learn from it too! 5 stars!”

Angelo via Barnes & Noble

“What sets Darla Davies’ memoir apart from more traditional recovery stories and makes this book relatable for athletes, and for dancers who are not in the ballroom world, are two things: Darla’s tips of advice at the end of each chapter and inspirational tales of celebrity athletes and dancers.”

Leigh Purtill via