Wearing a single red ballet shoe, an 11-year-old who had her leg amputated by rescuers to save her from a collapsed school building during the May 12 earthquake stunned a capacity crowd at the Beijing Paralympic Games opening ceremony on Saturday night with an amazing wheelchair ballet performance.
Wearing a single red ballet shoe, an 11-year-old who had her leg amputated by rescuers to save her from a collapsed school building during the May 12 earthquake stunned a capacity crowd at the Beijing Paralympic Games opening ceremony on Saturday night with an amazing wheelchair ballet performance.[Xinhua]
Four months ago, Li Yue was a promising ballet student in China's southwestern Sichuan Province who dreamed of becoming a ballerina. But while the devastating May 12 earthquake cost Li her left leg, it did not claim her ballet dreams.
As dazzling fireworks kicked off Saturday's three-hour Beijing Paralympics opening ceremony extravaganza at the National Stadium, better known as the Bird's Nest, Li burst into laughter in the dressing room ahead of her chance to perform her favorite ballet in front of a capacity crowd of more than 90,000 spectators.
At 10pm, Li took to the stage wearing pink tights and garland and a red ballet shoe on her right foot.
To the magical blend of dreamlike scenery, music and costumes, Li's dance in which she twirled gracefully with rhythmic steps and motions was a highlight of the ceremony.
China's leading ballet prince Lu Meng then stepped on to the stage to perform a pas de deux - a duet in which ballet steps are performed together - helping Li "float" about the stage.
The performance, which ended with Li sitting high on Lu's shoulder drew cheers from the audience and reduced some to tears.
Li was the only survivor of her class after her school building collapsed during the May 12 earthquake that left more than 80,000 people dead or missing.
It was when rescuers had almost given up hope of finding any more trapped victims after 40 hours of search efforts, that Li used her electronic watch to blip light signals up through the huge pile of collapsed concrete to alert them.
When rescuers reached Li, she was faced with a shocking choice - either lose her leg or her life. Rescuers wept but had no choice but to amputate her leg to save her.
The fragile girl drank almost a bottle of vinegar before the amputation operation, and survived the agony with bravery and perseverance.
After being buried under debris for more than 70 hours, Li finally was saved.
Zhang Jigang, executive director of the opening ceremony, believed Li was perfect in the opening ceremony.
"The massive earthquake shocked the world, and people nationwide were concerned over the relief efforts and reconstruction of the disaster areas," he said.
"When we heard about the story of Li, we were moved and decided to invite her to join the opening ceremony performance."
Li's performance reflected the strong spirit and optimistic life attitudes of people with disabilities, he said.
"We hope to help her realize her ballet dream and also convey our support and care to people of the disaster areas."
Li was overjoyed by the good news of dancing at the opening ceremony, and rehearsed from morning until midnight everyday. She said her ballet dream, far from ending, was just beginning.
(Shanghai Daily September 8, 2008)