Reality Rocks - Archive

Powerful Wheelchair Dance Routine Inspires, Impresses on ‘SYTYCD’

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

Season 8 of "So You Think You Can Dance" may be the most competitive season yet, but the most moving dance of S8 so far hasn't been by any of the actual contestants. That honor goes to two members of Oakland's Axis Dance Company, one of whom is in a wheelchair.

Judge Lil' C jokingly told contestant Miranda this week, "With legs like those, who needs arms?"--but ironically, the opposite could be said of brawny wheelchair-bound Axis dancer Rodney Bell, who stunningly performed on this week's "SYTYCD" results show with partner Sonsheree Giles. The two danced an excerpt from a brilliant Alex Ketley-choreographed piece called "To Color Me Different," and it was utterly inspiring, proving that dancers come in all shapes and sizes.

Axis was founded in 1987 by Thais Mazur and is now under the artistic direction of Judith Smith, both of whom had a dream of combining differently abled dancers in "physically integrated" routines. (Axis's mission statement on its website,, is to "create and perform contemporary dance that is developed through the collaboration of dancers with and without disabilities; to teach dance and educate about collaboration and disability through community education and outreach programs; and to promote and support physically integrated dance locally, nationally, and internationally.") Since the organization launched nearly a quarter-century ago, various Axis pieces have won or have been nominated for Isadora Duncan Dance Awards (Izzies); "To Color Me Different" deservedly earned an Izzie in 2008.

And maybe Axis will soon add an Emmy to its mantel, after this stunner.

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