Dance is based on the many different ways a person can move. Just imagine the possibilities if that person is also on wheels! That’s the idea that led dancer Chelsie Hill to start the L.A.-based wheelchair dance troupe the Rollettes. Comprised of six women-identifying individuals who use wheelchairs, the Rollettes have been combatting disability stigma through chair dancing since 2012. While they frequently perform live, you can check them out 24/7 in their sharp online videos that showcase sizzling choreography at rollettesdance.com. The group also hosts dance camps for differently abled dancers, produces the podcast Be Boundless, and recently kicked off an inspiring IG campiagn #WeCanTogether19. According to Natalie Fung, 27, a participant in the group’s “Lil Sis” program in which prospective Rollettes are mentored, “Each member is committed to the disability community,” and it shows.
The Rollettes’ roster ranges from highly trained dancers to movement newbies, all working together to create and execute their signature routines. Rollette Steph Aiello, 28, recalls how appearing in her first dance video for the group changed her perspective on herself. “I didn’t feel very confident in my ability to blend in with the other girls since I am a quadriplegic,” she says. “But after seeing clips [of our video] I started crying. It’s so amazing to be a part of a team that consistently encourages you to be you and accept yourself exactly the way you are.”
In a world that often automatically views those living with disabilities as victims, the Rollettes are constantly challenging that assumption. “‘How do you stay so positive?’ is a question I frequently get asked,” says Rollettes Lil Sis Christina Chambers, 22. “I have bad days, but it’s not because I have a disability. This disability has given me so much life and meaning and purpose.”
By Brandy Barber
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2019 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!
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