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Disabled dancers recall their date with destiny

Reporter: Stanley Lee 丨 CCTV.com

02-13-2015 00:19 BJT

Full coverage: 2015 Spring Festival

Next week is Chinese New Year, the start of the annual Spring Festival. In China, preparations are already underway.

CCTV is gearing up for its huge Spring Festival TV gala as well as the Lantern Festival Gala which marks the end of the two week celebrations. Both shows can be a gateway to fame and success for performers. Among them were two disabled dancers, who appeared at the 2009 Lantern Festival Gala and went onto appear in shows around the world. Their dance, called 'hand in hand' netted Ma Li and Zhai Xiaowei an invitation to the 2009 Spring Festival Gala.

Their dance, called

Ma Li and Zhai Xiaowei's dance, called 'hand in hand'

"When I heard we'd been selected to be part of the rehearsal, I told my parents and a lot of my friends. I was overjoyed," Said Zhai Xiaowei. "I never thought the Spring Festival Gala would be interested in us, especially with our disabilities. We wouldn't even dream of something like this." Another dancer Ma Li said so.

The dance tells the story of how a girl loses her right arm in a tragic accident. She then finds her soul-mate who shares a similar fate.

"A lot of momentous events took place in 2008 such as the Beijing Olympics and the earthquake in Wenchuan. So we wanted a show that portrayed the spirit of courage and perseverance," Said Jiang Gang, dance supervisor of 2009 CCTV Spring Festival Gala.

But just a few days before the show, Ma Li and Zhai Xiaowei's aspirations were dealt a devastating blow.

"I was injured in practice. Zhai threw me in the air but he slipped and was unable to catch me. I fell face-first on the ground. My tears began immediately. I thought it was all over," Ma said.

But the duo refused to give up. They gathered themselves in time to appear at the 2009 Lantern Festival gala, two weeks later and they were a huge hit.

They've since performed in 20 countries around the world and the pair say the adversity helped shape their character and continues to help them perform.

They say they want to inspire other people with disabilities, to take to the stage themselves.

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