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Rare neurological disorder forces Celine Dion to cancel, postpone shows

Updated December 8, 2022 - 3:18 pm

Celine Dion has finally identified the condition that has kept her from performing onstage for more than a year. She has also postponed international dates next spring, and canceled others over the summer.

Consequently, Dion might not perform at Resorts World Theatre until late 2023, or even into 2024.

A tearful Dion said in an Instagram post early Thursday morning that she had been diagnosed with Stiff Person Syndrome, an incurable and rare condition that causes extreme muscle rigidity and spasms that greatly limit a person’s mobility.

The condition has forced Dion to push back several shows on her upcoming European Courage World Tour schedule, moving dates scheduled from Feb. 24-April 11 to spring 2024.

Dion is also canceling eight performances next summer. Concerts from Aug. 26-Oct. 4, 2023, are still on the calendar and now represent the earliest of Dion’s performance dates.

There has been no announcement of Dion’s plans to start her residency at Resorts World Theatre. The venue has been holding all of May open for her to return to the stage. But while those dates are still reserved, it now seems more unlikely Dion will be ready to perform in May after her latest announcement. The Resorts World calendar is open from October through the end of 2023.

Las Vegas officials remain optimistic Dion will be back. Their message is not if, but when, she will perform again.

“When Celine is ready and feels she is back to 100%, we will look forward to welcoming her to Resorts World Theatre,” production promoter Concerts West /AEG Presents along with Resorts World Las Vegas said in a statement. “Celine’s health is the priority, and we will announce new dates when she is ready.”

Dion’s latest announcement is the first time she has publicly specified the condition that originally postponed her return to the Strip in November 2021. There was speculation months ago she might be ready to perform at Resorts World on New Year’s Eve.

But clearly, Dion’s latest message is she is not currently able to resume performing anytime soon.

“I’ve been dealing with problems with my health for a long time and it’s been really difficult for me to face these challenges and to talk about everything that I’ve been going through,” the 54-year-old superstar said. “Recently, I’ve been diagnosed with a very rare neurological disorder called Stiff Person Syndrome which affects something like one in a million people. While we’re still learning about this rare condition, we now know this is what’s been causing all the spasms I’ve been having.”

Such prescribed sedatives as Valium and anti-anxiety medication benzodiazepines (often referred to as “benzos”) are primary treatments of SPS. But the scarcity of the disease complicates proven treatments.

Dion continued: “Unfortunately, these spasms affect every aspect of my daily life, sometimes causing difficulties when I walk and not allowing me to use my vocal cords to sing the way I’m used to. It hurts me to tell you today this means I won’t be ready to restart my tour in Europe in February.”

Dion’s most recent performances were March 7-8, 2020 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Her last show at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace was June 8, 2019. The closing capped two residency productions covering 16 years, a total of 1,141 shows for 4.5 million fans.

Dion’s acting debut in a feature film, “Love Again,” is due out May 12. She co-stars opposite San Huegen and Priyanka Chopra in the romantic comedy. Filming took place from October 2020 through early 2021. The following October, Dion announced she would not open as planned at Resorts World.

“I miss seeing all of you … being on stage … performing for you,” Dion said in Thursday’s announcement. “I always give 100 percent when I do my shows, but I can’t give you that right now. For me to reach you again, I have no choice but to concentrate on my health, and I have hope that I’m on the road to recovery.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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