Dancer Left N.Y.C. to Enjoy Time with Aging Parents — 14 Years Later Her Broadway Dreams Came True for 1 Night

"There's still life to live," Kim Hale, 56, tells PEOPLE

<p>Michael Higgins</p> Kim Hale

Michael Higgins

Kim Hale
  • Kim Hale, 56, returned to New York City in March to live out her dreams of being on Broadway while sharing her journey with hundreds of thousands on social media

  • "I just felt like I'd been working hard, and if I want to do this, I need to," the professional dancer and content creator tells PEOPLE

  • Hale made a one-night-only guest appearance in Chicago on Broadway in May

Professional dancer Kim Hale, 56, has taken social media by storm with her inspiring message to never give up on your dreams.

The California native tells PEOPLE that she lived in New York City in her 20s and spent most of her time auditioning for Broadway, even doing some workshops for future Broadway shows, including one for the revival of Chicago. But she never made her debut.

Hale left the industry in 1996 and went on to have a booming dance teaching career, working with legendary actress and dancer Debbie Allen before transitioning to a marketing and social media role. Over the next few decades, Hale continued to rack up new experiences, choreograph and perform in several projects, even as she faced setbacks.

In 2010, Hale decided to move back to California to be with her parents at the end of their lives.

"I was there for a while, a good 10 years before they died," she says. "It was right before COVID that I lost my second parent. And then I had [a] melanoma diagnosis. I had three skin cancer surgeries. Then I had Bell's palsy, and then Bell's palsy left me with trigeminal neuralgia, which is a neurological condition."

<p>Courtesy of Kim Hale</p> Kim Hale with her parents

Courtesy of Kim Hale

Kim Hale with her parents

"When I had the skin cancer and everything, I called a friend of mine and I said, 'Is it bad?' And he said, 'Yeah, it's bad, girl, it's bad. You should go take this hip-hop class,' " Hale shares.

Hale says that first class in 2021 was the beginning of a journey that helped her regain her confidence. Eventually, Dexter Carr’s “Beginner Hip Hop” class led to heels classes, then ballet and jazz, and soon after, theater dance which helped get her “to the place to move to back New York.”

But it was also a 2023 Instagram comment by Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell, which read “Dreams have no deadline,” that has become her mantra.

Related: How Brazilian Dancer Ingrid Silva Is Changing the World — Starting with Ballet! (Exclusive)

"I'd been coming back and forth to New York for probably a year, weekends and things, once a month. And then one night, I just woke up and said, 'If you're going to move to New York, then now is the time.' "

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The content creator, with over 752K followers on TikTok, finally made the move in March.

"You only live once," she says. "I just felt like I'd been working hard, and if I want to do this, I need to."

<p>Courtesy of Kim Hale</p> Kim Hale in New York City.

Courtesy of Kim Hale

Kim Hale in New York City.

Related: Legendary Performer Debbie Allen on Her Mission to Prevent Blindness: 'This is Personal for Me' (Exclusive)

Hale is now teaching and training as an actor, singer and dancer as she continues to audition for roles. Despite the attention, she admits that she has trouble getting auditions because “nobody knows what to do with me.”

"There's just not a lot of stories told where I might fit in," she shares. "I get a lot of,  'We don't know what to do with you.' It's the thing that I get a lot of. So it's not all butterflies and rainbows over here. People don't know what to do, but people in the world are fascinated with my journey."

Along with the thousands that have been following her, Hale’s story got the attention of GMA3: What You Need to Know who helped surprise her with a one-night-only guest appearance in Chicago in May.

<p>Courtesy of Kim Hale</p> Kim Hale backstage at "Chicago" on Broadway.

Courtesy of Kim Hale

Kim Hale backstage at "Chicago" on Broadway.

Getting a taste of the Broadway stage after the early '90s workshop was "incredible," according to Hale.

Likening the experience to Cinderella, Hale jokes that after the show – or “at midnight” – “the carriage turned back into a pumpkin," but she says that her story “resonates with people because it's more of a metaphor for what's possible.”

Related: How Brazilian Dancer Ingrid Silva Is Changing the World — Starting with Ballet! (Exclusive)

"It's not that I think, ‘Oh, the same dream I had at 26, it doesn't look the same,’ " she adds. "It's not about being unrealistic. It's about constantly having to reimagine it, to fit where I'm at today. And then pushing the boundaries to see what I can do."

Hale says her story can apply to anyone who still has a dream.

“We all go through adversity. It doesn't mean [that] because you're over 50, you don't have dreams and goals. That's all part of this,” Hale notes. “There's still life to live.”

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