Across China: A dance teacher in a wheelchair
HEFEI, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- In a dance studio in Tongling, a city in east China's Anhui Province, Hong Chenlin sits in a wheelchair and moves back and forth around a group of children, scrutinizing little details and emphasizing the essentials of each dance move.
Since March, video clips of her dancing in a wheelchair have become an online sensation, as the videos marked the 35-year-old professional dancer rebuilding her dancing career after being confined to a wheelchair for 10 years.
Hong has been passionate about dancing since her childhood. At the age of 12, she attended an art school to learn Chinese dance. After graduation, she had been engaged in dance performances and teaching in provinces such as Zhejiang and Jiangsu, until a traffic accident shattered her dreams in 2012.
"I heard a loud noise, and then I realized that I couldn't move," she recalled.
When the treatment was over, Hong could not face the abrupt end of her dancing career. The accident damaged her spine, causing paraplegia and leaving her confined to a wheelchair.
"At that time, I refused to meet my students who visited me. As a dance teacher, I didn't know how to face them if I couldn't stand," said Hong.
After a period of time, Hong slowly adapted to life in a wheelchair. Sweeping the floor, cooking and reading, she managed to take care of her daily life tasks on her own. Getting married and giving birth made her see hope in her life once again.
However, she did not think of dancing again until a home quarantine period in March 2022, as her city launched a campaign against a local COVID-19 resurgence.
She saw on short-video platforms that a lot of people danced at home for exercises and uploaded the clips online, which rekindled her desire to dance.
"The whole process of shooting my first video took almost three days, from selecting songs and designing dance moves to video shooting," Hong said. On March 26, she posted the video online, which won her praise and encouragement from many netizens.
Reassured by the online comments, Hong has updated her videos on a regular basis.
Hong used her friend Hu Peijing's local dance training studio to shoot some of her videos. While doing so, she saw children practicing dance, reminding her of her own childhood. The more Hong visited the studio, the more familiar she became with the children.
"One day, Hong asked me if she could work here as a part-time teacher. I was elated to hear that because I knew that she finally overcame her psychological shadow," Hu said.
Hong said although she could not dance like she used to, she could still share her expertise and performance experience with the children. She started teaching in late April.
Dancing in a wheelchair requires keeping her back straight for a long time, and exerting strength on her upper limbs. For Hong with pains from the spinal injury, she often pants with fatigue after a few dance moves. But she always keeps a smile on her face and does her best in front of her students.
"Her dance moves are elegant. I've also learned to remain positive, optimistic and confident from her," said Wu Ziyan, an 11-year-old student in Hong's class.