Around 2 million people in the United States have had an amputation or were born with a limb difference, and 185,000 undergo amputation surgery each year, according to the Amputee Coalition.
Dance is not limited to the use of legs. Dancing involves the expression of the body to music, and can be performed with one leg, or even no legs at all.
- According to Encyclopedia Britannica, dance is the movement of the body in a rhythmic way. It is usually to music and within a given space, for the purpose of expressing an idea or emotion, releasing energy, or simply taking delight in the movement itself.
- The general knowledge English-language encyclopedia also stated that the art of dance is an impulse that is channeled by skillful performers into something that becomes intensely expressive and that may delight spectators who feel no wish to dance themselves.
- “Dancing is an elegant, and regular movement, harmoniously composed of beautiful Attitudes, and contrasted graceful Posture of the Body, and parts thereof,” The English classical ballet master John Weaver wrote in 1721.
Here are 3 inspirational stories of dancers who dance without their legs. Their courage to perfect the art that they love so much should be greatly admired and applauded, despite their physical disabilities.
Gabe Adams has no arms or legs, but he started dancing in seventh grade when he entered a talent show and performed a hip-hop routine.
"I got into dancing because I wanted to prove to myself and other people around me that there was more to me than the kid that was in the wheelchair," he told KSL-TV in his home state of Utah.
Adams was born without legs and was abandoned by his mother in Brazil, according to Inside Edition.
He was adopted by Janelle and Ron Adams as an infant, who had heard of his plight.
"I kept thinking about this baby far away in a hospital with no arms and no legs. I couldn't get him out of my mind," says Janelle, who has 13 biological children, most of them grown.
So how did he learn how to dance? By scooting around using a wheelchair.
Adams recently moved and attends a different high school and is taking a dance class. He hopes to compete in an outside dance team, according to Inside Edition.
This hip-hop dancer, who was born without legs, appeared on an Indian television reality show, India's Got Talent. He has become a rage with his swift dance moves and acrobatic skills.
Hailing from a poor neighborhood in East Delhi, the 21-year-old was born without legs due to a birth defect.
He later taught himself how to dance by copying the moves from break-dance videos available on the internet.
Describing how he earned a living as a mobile phone repairman, Thakur told NDTV: “A lot of people used to tell me...they told my parents that he does not have legs, take care of him properly.
“I never thought in my life about anything that I might not be able to do or that it is beyond my capabilities.”
His friends and choreographer are his biggest supporters, Thakur added.
His choreographer told NDTV: “We call this b-boying dance, and I think he is much better than them because he does lovely stunts with his hands and moves around very beautifully."
Thakur shared that hopes to open a dance training school for physically challenged people in the future.
When Hawkins was just 19 years old, her life took a turn for the worse.
One morning, in her first year of university, she stumbled out of bed delirious. She could barely walk or speak. Fortunately, she unlocked her bedroom door just in time to collapse in front of her flatmates outside, who immediately called the ambulance.
In the hospital, her family learned that Hawkins had meningitis B, which is a life-threatening illness. Her whole body was being attacked by deadly bacteria. Doctors did not expect her to survive the night.
While she fought to survive for days, doctors told her that both her legs would have to be amputated at the knee. This is due to how severe the infection was and how there was no blood flow in her legs for too long.
After the surgery, Hawkins learned how to use a wheelchair, crutches, and eventually, two prosthetic limbs. Like a child, she had to learn how to walk all over again, this time on plastic and metal structures.
Despite facing these difficulties, Hawkins decided to go back to dancing, something that she had picked up since childhood.
Writing for Stylist magazine, Hawkins recalled: “After the amputation, I was desperate to try and reclaim my life.
“I didn’t want to feel disabled, I didn’t want to be disabled. I would hide my legs, and I was too embarrassed to tell people I was an amputee. I would see myself in the mirror and feel sick at the sight of my own body.”
Flash forward seven years later, Hawkins found herself back on the dance floor. She also discovered Candoco, an inclusive dance company made up of both able and disabled dancers.
Describing the challenges she faced in a BBC article, Hawkins said: “It might sound as though I have it all worked out, but that’s definitely not the case.
“There are challenges - say, when your leg falls off during a performance. Last October I took part in Normcore, a contemporary piece about body politics by the Portuguese choreographer Dinis Machado.
“I was the only physically disabled performer out of five. Rehearsals went well, but on the morning of the premiere in Portugal, I couldn’t keep my prosthetic leg on. One of the metal inserts had worn down, probably because of all the dancing I had been doing. It wouldn’t stay in place.”
In Marie Claire magazine, Hawkins wrote: “All bodies are worthy of respect. No matter what they look like or how they operate."
Moving to, with, even against the music is dance. It can also be with any part of the body as long as there is a range of motion with an external force, such as birds singing, waves crashing, or dancing with the silence.
The most basic motive of dancing is the expression and communication of emotions with a range of motion. This form of art is a way for humans and animals to release powerful feelings, such as sudden access to high spirits, joy, impatience, or anger.