Shu-han Zhuang, who has been dancing since childhood, is now an experienced dancer of various styles, including Wheelchair ballroom dancing! Though Zhuang herself is not a wheelchair user, she teaches wheelchair users to dance and enjoy the passion of expressing themselves.
When there is a class, various styles of wheelchairs are parked against the wall of the dance classroom—both electric and manual ones, just like ordinary dance students put on dance shoes. Wheelchair ballroom dancing students change from their usual wheelchairs to sports wheelchairs.
Although mostly of the wheelchair ballroom dancing students coached by Zhuang are in their middle ages, students have experience in dancing and participating in other types of sports. They are still active in varied fields of sports, in spite of their disabilities. And their standing partners, who are already grandparents of someone, can still easily raise their legs over their heads, regardless of their advanced age. Wheelchair dancers have back muscles and biceps so fit that no one can ever claim that they are flabby.
The most important influence: Confidence
The self-confidence that the Wheelchair ballroom dancing students holds, echoes the positive influence on confidence, once mentioned by Zhuang.
Zhuang, who was born in an artistic family, displays an early passion for dance, and ends up as a student in the dance classes. She has never stopped learning to dance, even when she immigrated to Canada with her family.
When Zhuang was abroad, she found herself, like most of the Asian immigrants, shy and quiet. Afraid to put her best foot forward because of the low self-esteem. Only on the stage could she find her confidence and joy, for by then she would have no time for shyness but to express herself to the fullest.
After teaching dancing for many years, Zhuang decided to challenge herself by teaching Wheelchair ballroom dancing.
Dance: Harmony of force and beauty
Breaking the old frame of Wheelchair ballroom dancing, Zhuang combines elements from varied dancing styles, such as ballet, hip-hop, latin, belly, jazz, ballroom dance and so on. Wheelchair ballroom dancing requires collaborations of a pair of dancers, one of which is a wheelchair user while the other can stand. There is actually no difference compared to normal dancing partners, wheelchair dancers show not only standing but also sitting.
“I never see my students as disable”, Zhuang said, “Some dance with their feet, and some with wheelchair, that’s it.”
Zhuang's students have different levels of disabilities, some of them have injured their spines, some suffers from poliomyelitis, and others have difficulties in rotating their neck. To cater to the different condition of her students, Zhuang has a wheelchair at home for her to modify dance at any time.
If you can dance, you can fly.
We all exercise for a certain purpose, some for recovery, some for health, some for entertainment, while others for supremacy in dancing. No matter which purpose one works for, it is the endless effort and joyful smile that moves Zhuang most.
Here is a word for you: If you can dance, you can fly. Let's dance!