The inspiring stories behind the Big Blue Test video - Part 1: Zippora and Samantha

Many people have asked about the stories behind the people on the Big Blue Test video. Today, I’d like to share a couple of them: Zippora and Samantha, the woman and the girl dancing ballet on the video:

The story of Zippora
Zippora Karz is a former soloist ballerina with the New York City Ballet where she performed for 16 years on stage and in televised performances. Diagnosed with juvenile diabetes in 1987, just as she was being featured in solo roles, she found a way to continue to live her dream despite her illness. Zippora became as passionate about health and healing as she is about dance. She now serves as a teacher and repetiteur for the George Balanchine Trust, rehearsing and staging Balanchine’s choreography for a host of national and international dance companies. She is also a diabetes spokesperson and educator who regularly addresses major diabetes conferences and organizations worldwide, motivating and inspiring people of all ages to live their passion and fulfill their dreams. Her memoir, The Sugarless Plum, details her struggles and triumphs as a ballerina with diabetes.

Here are a few thoughts from Zippora, from a conversation the Director of the video had with her:
I was a young dancer who left home at the age of 15 and was a member of the NYC Ballet by the age of 18. By 20 I was starring as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker, dancing roles by Jerome Robbins, and having new ballets created on me by Peter Martins, the company director following the death of George Balanchine.

It was the stuff dreams are made of. It was a magical time. Then my world came crashing down when I was diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes at the age of 21. My body fell apart as I tried desperately to hold on to my dancing and my life. My story is about many things. On the one hand, it is about Diabetes: the insulin shots, the blood sugar management, the diet, the exercise, and the psychological effects of having a disease. It is about overcoming the hurdles and going on to become a soloist ballerina, performing with the New York City Ballet for 16 years, and then becoming a teacher, coach, and repetiteur for the George Balanchine Trust.

I am proud of the career I had as a ballerina, but my real story is about learning how to live with, honor and respect the self and the body. My story is about living a full life, and not letting obstacles defeat you and dissuade you from following your heart.

You can get Zippora's book, The Sugarless Plum, on Amazon and other bookstores:

The story of Samantha
Samantha's mother had been told about Zippora's memoir, The Sugarless Plum by Samantha's diabetes doctor. Her mother contacted Zippora via facebook and the two began corresponding by email and by phone. Since they lived near each other Zippora asked the film director of the video if Samantha could be in the video with her. This was their first meeting. Her mother cried through the entire shoot.

Here are a few thoughts from Samantha's mom, from a conversation the Director of the video had with her:
In May of 2009 we began to notice some symptoms in our daughter Sam who was 10 at that time. She lost about 7 pounds in a very short amount of time. Sam’s not a big kid and that 7 pounds was equivalent to about 10% of her body weight. She was drinking excessive amounts of water. One night we counted 7 eight-ounce glasses of water in about an hour! Her energy was off. She exhibited other symptoms too.
On May 28, 2009 Sam was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. We have no family history of Diabetes.

Sam is a happy, healthy, active kid, with amazingly good eating habits. She is also a dancer. She’s been dancing almost since she could walk. She dances an average of 20+ hours a week. She takes Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Pilates, Stretch and Turns classes to name a few...

One month after Sam was diagnosed, she competed for the 2009 National Title at “West Coast Dance Explosion” Nationals in Las Vegas. Dancers audition at regional events nationwide to compete for National Title. The National event is a week long Dance Convention and Competition. The dancers take 3 full days of workshop classes (ballet, tap, hip hop, jazz, technique etc), attend 2 auditions (1 ballet and 1 jazz), compete in a solo event and spend evenings in rehearsals learning a big dance number to perform at the closing Gala. Sam placed 4th overall in her age division.

This past year, Sam auditioned for and was accepted to both the American Ballet Theatre’s Young Dancer Summer Program and the Joffrey Ballet Young Dancer Summer Intensive. She attended both 2 week programs in New York.

Sam also attends numerous weekend dance conventions throughout the year. On those weekends, the dancers usually start with a warm up around 8 am and then take up to 5 dance classes throughout the day, ending around 3:30 or 4:00 pm.

With the busy schedule Sam keeps, she remains a straight A student in school.

Has Diabetes slowed her down? Not so much :)

Read the stories of George and Bill.

Sunday, Nov. 14 at 2 pm (your local time, wherever you live), do the Big Blue Test.

Visit for details.

Wonderful! I am most inspired by these two, in the video, and how they so smoothly flow with one another… :slight_smile: Ballerinas are so graceful! I hope, as a I lose weight, to one day have about an ounce of that grace. lol

That is amazing - I never would have imagined they had never met before the shoot!

Such an amazing story!

It made me cry again! Of happiness and hope. It is amazing how you can almost feel the energy between them in the video. Yes, indeed graceful!

Thanks for the story behind the scenes Manny. I read Zippora’s book, she endured a lot while trying to live with diabetes.

Love knowing the stories. This is a wonderful one.


Reading the backstory makes it even more fun to watch. Knowing the dancers just met. I can see the girl’s joy in preforming with and accomplished soloist. Very cool.

I think I’ll watch again and again.

Here’s to the ladies! Much honer there! My oldest is also a Type 1 who loved to be a ballerina when she was in school! You guys touch me sooooo much seeing that video! I worked in balaeina with my daughter during that time in her life(now she’s the mother of 3 at 22) But seeing that brought soooooo many meriose of us testing out b/s together and just made me cry seeing it. Thank both of you for shpwing other’s we CAN do this and WILL!

Thank you for sharing. It really touched my heart.

Great knowing the stories behind this wonderful video. Great music track too.

Thanks for sharing the stories. It brings the people closer to us. What a wonderful joining of dancers !!

wonderful wonderful story. Tears and truth. I loved the part dancing together. So beautiful.