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Inspiring Wheelchair-Bound Woman Teaches People How to Dance

Chelsie Hill knew she wanted to become a dancer ever since she was 3 years old, and not even a life-altering accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down was going to wreck her dream. She learned to use her wheelchair as part of her body and started to dance again. Today she is an acclaimed hip-hop dancer, motivational speaker and a fine example that when life gives you lemons, you can indeed make lemonade.

“Dance is the only thing my daughter has ever wanted to do,” Chelsie’s mother Wendy Hill says. She won her first competition at age five and kept turning in stellar performances all through her school years. She made the high-school varsity dance team as a freshman and everything seem to point to a successful career as a professional dancer. But then, tragedy struck. After a party, Chelsie got in a car with a drunk driver who hit a tree head-on at 40mph. She survived the ordeal, but was diagnosed as a T10 paraplegic. The aspiring dancer retained full control of her upper body, but doctors told her that she would never walk again. She was just 17 at the time.

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While most kids in her situation would just break down and cry, Chelsie just told doctors “Forget walking, I just want to dance.” Obviously, that didn’t seem possible either, but during her long recovery process, Hill saw a video of a wheelchair-bound woman dancing, and that gave her hope that she may yet fulfill her dream. The woman in the video was Auti Angel, a former  professional dancer and choreographer, performing with hip-hop artists N.W.A, Kid ‘n Play and LL Cool J, who had been in a wheelchair for 20 years. Nine months after her accident, Chelsie met Auti and the two instantly hit it off.

Auti Angel and three other wheelchair-bound dancers were scheduled to star in a reality show about their lives called “Push Girls” and after hearing Chelsie’s story, they decided she would make a great supporting character with her message to teens about drunk driving. She debuted on the show in July 2012 and that helped kickstart her own dancing career. While traveling the country on speaking engagements, Hill met a lot of women in wheelchairs who also wanted to dance. She started holding dance classes, but after hearing from women who couldn’t attend them she started pondering online video tutorials. “There are so many able-bodied people doing tutorials,” she said, “so why shouldn’t I do them?”

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Since her accident, Chelsie Hill has been focusing a lot on hip-hop dancing because it allows her to use her upper-body to great effect, while still integrating her new legs in routines. Her recently released concept video with choreography from Kendrick Clevor, in which she stars alongside dancers who aren’t in wheelchairs, shows just what she can do.

“Look,” Chelsie says, “dance is dance whether you are walking or your rolling, and that’s what I think is the beauty of dance. Dance doesn’t have a disability…Dance is something you feel in your heart.”

 

Despite having risen to internet fame with her wheelchair dance routines, Chelsie Hill hasn’t given up on her hopes of walking again. She refuses to give up and is constantly in the gym working hard to regain control of her lower body.

 

Photos: Chelsie Hill/Facebook

Sources: The Daily Dot, Carmel Magazine

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