starring Angela Rockwood, Tiphany Adams, Auti Angel, Mia Schaikewitz and Chelsie Hill

Wheelchair dance pushes boundaries — and blows minds

We’ve already seen wheelchair dance on PUSH GIRLS (and we’ll be seeing more tonight), but some of you may be experiencing this art form for the first time on the show. If you want to see even more, you’re in luck, because there’s a thriving worldwide wheelchair dance community and chances are you can find a performance near you if you live in an urban area. Attending a live show can be quite a thrill, but since I can’t drag you all to a performance, we’ll do our best with the two-dimensional version.

Some wheelchair dance companies feature only wheelchair users or work more generally with disabled dancers, in which case you may see people using prostheses, canes, crutches and other devices on stage. Others include non-disabled people, and may call themselves integrated dance troupes. In all cases, watching the dancers at work, whether they’re in choreography and rehearsal stages or performing in front of a live audience, is amazing, and it really defies the way people think about disability and disabled bodies, because the dancers use their mobility aids as extensions of their bodies, bringing them into the dance rather than treating them as props or objects to be wrestled with.

The excerpt from AXIS Dance Company, with its modern choreography, illustrates the way dancers move with and through their chairs to integrate them into the larger piece; it requires skill to pull all the elements of the scene together.

Here’s another excerpt from a very different setting, also with striking choreography. The song, “Hand in Hand,” is from a popular Chinese television show. This pas de deux featuring Ma Li (??) and Zhai Xiaowei (???) illustrates a very different kind of dance than many people expect when they think of ballet and classical choreography, but it’s stunning in its precision and control.

Yet another style of wheelchair dance; the dynamism and explosive energy of hip-hop dance come through loud and clear with our push girls behind the wheel!

Disabled dancers need the training, power, strength and control common to all dancers, and they’re anything but bland to watch in action. In the course of a performance, they push their bodies to the limit, and the minds of the audience are usually pushed outside their comfort zone as well. Catch wheelchair dance where you can; you won’t regret it.

If you can’t stand up, stand out! PUSH GIRLS airs on Mondays at 10P.