Dance competion judge tells wheelchair dancer “I don’t understand the prop” (he was referring to her wheelchair)

Mia’s thoughts on the story below- the story below shows the cloud that a large proportion of the abelist community live in when it comes to understanding the fact that our lives don’t end when we become a wheelchair using disabled person. This hits very close to home for me, because three of the most beautiful and talented women I know are wheelchair dancers. Two of them highly respected professionals known the world over for their talents the other an amazing ballerina all her life until disability and now because she hooked up with the other two is back on the fast track to once again gracing the stage she loves. Here is the link to infinity dance theatre run by the amazing mistress of the dance kitty. and below are youtubes of the amazing axis dance troupe of california

you watch these amazing women and men in chairs and ask your self? are they playing? are the chairs props? the first time I watched my sister from another mother the amazing wheelchair dancr dance, My soul was found and lifted and my heart was opened and I cried with joy. Read the story below and ask yourself are you as angry at the idiot judges as I am?

“I Don’t Understand the Prop.” The Life of a Wheelchair Dancer

This story was reposted froma blogpost By Wheeliedance on Aug 14, 2013

“I Don’t Understand the Prop.” The Life of a Wheelchair Dancer
I have been a wheelchair user for my entire life and a dancer for almost as long. Maybe it was in- part because I danced at my mother’s studio and everyone knew me there, but being the only dancer who used a wheelchair never made me feel any different from my teammates. True, I had to sometimes modify the choreography, but I didn’t care, because I loved dancing and the people on my competition team were (and still are) some of my closest friends.

During my years as a competitive dancer, I’ve seen people cry because they were so moved by my dancing (which admittedly I find pretty funny). I’ve been called both amazing and inspiring, and even been awarded “most inspirational” (or the Kaylee award as my friends jokingly called it). Though I appreciate the recognition, I’m the kind of person who doesn’t let my chair hold me back, nor do I think it makes me any different from everyone else, so these comments and reactions always made me feel awkward. This was especially true when I was called “inspirational” after performing a hip hop routine. No amount of recognition will ever compare to the feeling of having two judges at two different competitions go on and on throughout my performances, about how they didn’t understand my “prop.” They said they didn’t see why my “prop” wheelchair was needed.

When I was 18, I did a duo with my friend. In addition to that dance, I was also in two or three group performances. This was my first competition doing multiple dances, and I thought it would be another day of “You’re so inspirational”. I was wrong. I don’t remember our exact scores, but overall, we did really well that year. I remember listening to the judge comment tapes in the following dance class expecting to hear the usual “Smile” or “Point your toes” advice, but this time the judge’s comments were different. There was one judge who just kept saying “I don’t understand the prop,” and telling us that the “prop” was unnecessary, as well as distracting and just didn’t belong. After several minutes of hearing about the “prop” in all of my dances, the judge then said something like “Oh my God, I think it’s real. I just can’t believe it.” At that point, my friend/duo partner and I looked at each other and laughed hysterically as we finally realized that this “prop” that the judges didn’t understand wasn’t a prop at all, it was MY WHEELCHAIR.

Fast forward two years, and once again while listening to judge comments (this time with my entire team) I heard “I’m not sure how this prop really fits in with the choreography.” Throughout my years of competitive dancing I faced staring and comments from people who didn’t think I belonged, and judges singling me out as an inspiration, but nothing will ever be as memorable as the first time I heard “I don’t understand the prop.”

Author: disabledaccessdenied

I am a disabled woman who through no fault of my own has wheels under my ass. I rely on the decency and common sense of local, state and federal goverments, as well as the retail community to abide by the disabled access laws and provide adequate ramps, disabled toilets, and not use them as store rooms or broom closets. This blog exists to find the offenders and out them, inform them, and report them if necessary and shame them into doing the right thing when all else fails.

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