Wheelchair dancers take advantage of diverse repertoires in Shanghai
Shao Yue was only 10 years old when she lost one of her legs to cancer. After such an incident, many believed that she would not be able to continue the activities that she loved before, such as dancing. However, she got them all wrong and is now a national wheelchair dance champion who hopes her story can help change perceptions of people with disabilities in China.
âPeople think we have a lot of difficulty getting outâ¦ and that we have to rely completely on others to survive,â said the 34-year-old winner of several competitions. “But actually, we don’t need that much help. And we don’t need everyone to think of us as strangers,” adds Shao, a mother who drives her daughter to school every day. .
Despite the gradual modernization of attitudes in China, people with disabilities say they are still treated like foreigners.
Shao trains in Shanghai with a dance troupe made up of hearing and visually impaired people, as well as dancers in wheelchairs. The troupe aims to fight against stigma by offering people with disabilities a platform to express themselves through art.
âSome people with disabilities often feel trapped,â said Zhou Ziqiang, 38, a non-disabled dance teacher who started training artists with disabilities in 2006. âOnce they join these groups, they can slowly grow. open up and get closer to society. “
In recent years, some local authorities have made efforts to increase the number of fitness programs available for people with disabilities and have invested in the construction of dedicated sports facilities and the training of instructors.
Liu Huaiyu, 20, stayed near the back of the studio during a recent troop training session as he and his fellow dancers gracefully whirled around in their wheelchairs to the sound of pulsating Chinese pop music.
Despite his shyness, he said the dancing helped him come out of his shell. âI used to have a little self-loathing, I didn’t like talking to people,â said Liu, who lost a leg in a car accident at the age of 10. “After dancing, I even go out for a walk sometimes now.”
Another team of their troupe made up of hearing-impaired dancers watched the conductors at the front and back of the stage to count the beats of the routines on their fingers.
âEven though we can’t hear the music, we can still keep up with the beat,â said Chen Cen, 34, who was born without hearing but has been dancing since the age of 6. âWe put in a lot more work than people who can hear to complete a routine like this,â she signed.
She hopes more Chinese can recognize the âfighting spiritâ required of people with disabilities rather than seeing them as an âinconvenience,â as she puts it.
For wheelchair dancer Shao, the most important thing is how she sees herself. âI don’t despair just because I have a disability,â she said. “I just have a different kind of life, and I can choose to live it in a more exciting way.”