Press Play to start audio

February 14, 2008

Wheelchair Dancer


Tonight in Washington, D.C., dancer Cornelia Kip Lee will perform in a piece based on the sonnets of Shakespeare. In this dance, as in almost all of her work, Cornelia will do part of her performance in a wheelchair.

Cornelia had polio as a child, and for as long as she can remember, she has been limited in the use of her left leg. She loved ballet as a girl, but was forced to stop when her teacher found out she was unable to dance en pointe.

Decades later, she had a patchwork career and an active private life in the world of improvisational acting and movement. It was at a workshop that Cornelia first tried dancing in a wheelchair. To her surprise, the experience was not limiting but freeing. Even more, it was electrifying.

Now in her 50s, Cornelia has become a professional dancer. Since she began training, she has gotten a lot stronger. Sometimes she dances with a wheelchair, and sometimes not.


Our Valentines Day story began in New Orleans 25 years ago. Darryl Hammill's family runs the Endymion Krewe. Each year they make a huge float for Mardis Gras—and they also have huge parties.

Darryl's date canceled on the eve of the biggest party of the season, the Coronation Ball. Darryl turned to his sister for help finding a date. The only problem was that his sister had always referred to her brother as "my weird brother" when discussing him with her friends.

The woman Darryl would meet the night of the Coronation Ball became the love of his life, and their marriage is still going strong 25 years later.


Tagged with

You might also like…

Daily Story Update

Get daily updates and special announcements about The Story.

Produced by

WUNC North Carolina Public Radio 91.5 logo