Further proof that people categorized as “disabled” can be amazingly talented and easily surpass the skills of those categorized as “abled”.
This immensely popular YouTube video (2,000,000+ hits) features two Chinese dancers who would traditionally be classified as “disabled”. The young woman has only a left arm and her partner has only a right leg and dances with a crutch that is used as a clever prop during the performance.
The introduction begins 30 seconds in and is in English, but no captioning is available. The introduction is as follows:
“Welcome Back to Centre Stage and our next performers literally wouldn’t let anything stop them from dancing. Ma Li (spelling?) lost her arm in a car accident and Jai Shau Wai (spelling?) lost his leg while still a child. Despite their irreversible disabilities they still continue to dance and in this touching piece they show their strength and determination. They also display how friendship and mutual support can once again make them complete in this duet. From these two irrepressible souls this is the dance piece ‘Hand in Hand’. “
I find the suggestion that “friendship and mutual support can make them complete” is a little condescending, implying that people must fit some kind of norm regarding their physical bodies to count as whole persons. Part and parcel with this implication is the idea that people who are “complete” don’t require friendship and mutual support to be whole. I know that this isn’t the message that the introduction was meant to convey, but it is certainly an example of how ingrained conceptions of (dis)ability truly are. I don’t know about you, but as a traditionally “abled” person I am as incomplete as anyone without friendship and mutual support. This is another example of how outward appearance underlines our abilities to deceive ourselves into thinking that we are either more or less than other people.
Setting aside the semantics of marginalization, this is a beautiful dance piece that can serve as a metaphor of the necessity of friendship and mutual support in all our lives. Enjoy!