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Paralyzed dancer returns to stage

By Sun Yuanqing ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-07-09 10:00:17

Paralyzed dancer returns to stage

Liu Yan poses with children from her charity dance class, Angel's Smile photographer Chen Mingsheng and Thomas Bouillonnec, managing director of Piaget China. Provided to China Daily

For many people, memories of the Olympic Games in Beijing may have begun to fade - but for Liu Yan, the 2008 event changed her life.

Paralyzed dancer returns to stage

Modern dancer lives her dream 

Paralyzed dancer returns to stage

Injured dancer finds rebirth onstage 

Liu, 32, who was set to lead in the dance performance Silk Road at the opening ceremony of the Games, fell from a 3-meter-high malfunctioning platform during a rehearsal. The accident resulted in nerve and spinal damage, paralyzing her lower body and ruining her career as a classical Chinese dancer.

Six years later, she has returned to the stage, as lead dancer in The Red Thread. The modern dance piece featured as part of the ongoing Festival Croisements 2014 to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations between China and France.

Following a national tour of The Red Thread that ended in May, she unveiled an exhibition of photographs in Beijing, seeking to highlight the smiles of children who took free dance lessons offered by her charity.

The exhibition, Angel's Smile, is Liu's tribute to the children, many of whom are either orphans or have hearing difficulties.

"Children are able to smile in the face of their adversity. Very few people actually know what they are really going through. This is the kind of spiritual power that I want to bring to everybody," Liu says.

This year, French luxury watchmaker and jeweler Piaget collaborated with Liu's charity to sponsor 162 children to take dance classes next year.

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