Saturday, September 6, 2008

Celebrated Chinese Dancer, Liu Yan, Paralysed in Rehearsals for the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games

Like many of you, I was completely blown away by the beauty of the opening ceremonies of the U.S. Olympics. Even though I'd had deep reservations about the Olympics being held in China, I backpedaled when it came to actually boycotting the games, and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed seeing them.

Sadly, there have been a number of sad stories to come out of the games, and this one, about Liu Yan--one of China's leading classical dancers who was paralysed during rehearsals for the opening ceremony--really got to me. Liu Yan, a graduate of the Beijing Dance Academy and winner of the Lotus Cup, was seriously injured after falling from a faulty platform during rehearsals. She was rushed to hospital, where she underwent a series of emergeny operations, but when she woke up, she had no feeling from the waist down.

Zhang Yimou, the artistic director of the ceremonies, expressed sorrow about her injuries:

“I feel sorry for Liu Yan, my heart is full of regrets,” he said in an interview. “I’m deeply sorry. Liu Yan is a heroine. She sacrificed a lot for the Olympics, for me, for the opening ceremony.”
“I regret many things, many details of this performance, many things I could have done better,” he said. “For example, there are performers who were injured. I blame myself for that. It might well have been avoided if I had given more detailed instructions.”

The Beijing Olympics committe initially tried to keep Liu Yan's injury a secret, but news broke about her accident and they agreed to hold a news conference on the subject.

Liu Yan's Doctors believe she will never walk again. Performing in the Olympics was a dream for this girl, and now she simply hopes she'll be able to stand once again her own two feet.

Here's a video of her dancing before the accident:

What a tragic loss for Chinese dance.


A World Away said...

Contrats on the kudos from Willow and if I may say they are well deserved. Your posts are a delight. This is very sad post but hopefully she will recover or science may find a way to help her. In any event this reminds me of the film The Butterfly and the Diving Bell which I thought was a cinemagraphic masterpiece.
Can you tell me how to embed the video in a post?
I can't help but asking if your wedding photo was taken in the grounds of the CP hotel with the High Level bridge in the background?

willow said...

This is indeed such a tragedy for someone so talented and whose whole life must have been consumed with dance. So sad.

Margaret said...

Stephen: Good eye! Yes, the photo was taken at the Hotel MacDonald, where we had our wedding, and that is the High Level bridge in the background.

I use You Tube to imbed videos in my posts. If you are watching a You Tube video, you'll see a link labeled "imbed" (usually on the top right right-hand side). If you're using blogger, you can just copy that link directly into your post, and a video window will show up in your post. (Does that make sense? I hope so!).

Willow: Yes, I can't even imagine how hard it would be to lose your mobility, but it must be absolutely crushing for someone whose entire life was about movement. I know how depressed my husband was when he injured his knee and couldn't play soccer--and that was just temporary!

skatej said...

These people have taken that girl's life away. I am absolutely livid.
I saw a short film once that featured a wheelchair bound former ballerina, it was heartbreaking. I wish I could remember what it was called.

I'm feeling a bit better, although I'm not going to be able to work this weekend. I can't wait to be able to completely lay down and to sleep on my side again.

Margaret said...

I'm glad you're feeling better, Kate! I thought this story would really resonate with you--it's so sad, especially for a dancer. Let me know if you remember the name of the movie.

Gillian L. said...

My heart goes out to Lui Yan. I have worked with some people in wheelchairs and it is a very challenging life. The loss for her it so huge as her whole life was built around using her body. I hope as someone else said that medical science has a break through and can help her walk again.


skatej said...

It was a short film played on TCM in between movies in the summer of 2005. I don't know how to find it other than contacting the peope at TCM!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

So beautiful, but quite painful to watch. Life is inexpicably unfair at times. My heart goes out to her.

Anonymous said...

Being trapped in your own body and knowing it is one of the cruelest things I can think of happening to any kind of athlete. I was only paralysed temporarily and the fear and frustration was terrifying.

China lost such a gifted dancer. The fluidity of her movements and the stillness of her poses were so beautiful in the video. I really hope they come up with a breakthrough for her.

Sandra Evertson said...

Sandra Evertson

M.Kate said...

Margaret, I dint know that. This is a great tragedy...she danced SO WELL in this video. I agree, she is a heroine for all of us. With such a huge scale and difficult opening/closing of the beijing Olympics, it is difficult to avoid accidents..but i do wish it never happened.

Margaret said...

Yes, I'm sure it's very difficult to avoid accidents when dealing with such a large group of performers--thousands!(I remember thinking at one point during the opening ceremony that there were more performers in the opening ceremonies than there were PEOPLE in my home town!). Still, such a sad thing to happen.