Mia Schaikewitz, 32, wasn’t a professionally trained dancer before her spinal cord injury (caused by an arteriovenous malformation rupture at age 15), but she always loved to dance. And after becoming a T9-10 para, she was not only concerned that dancing was on the chopping block, but also something much more important — her freedom of movement. Luckily she met Auti Angel, a founding member of the world’s first hip-hop wheelchair dance group, the Colours ’n Motion dancers, who proved her wrong.
“When I met Auti Angel and Briana Walker, who were fellow spokesmodels for Colours Wheelchairs, they were already dancing together as an amazing duo team.” Angel and Schiakewitz went on to become close friends, and it was only a matter of time before Schiakewitz began trying some of those hip-hop moves. One of the most important lessons she learned: How to make the chair an asset rather than a limitation.
“Because we have been using wheelchairs for as long as we have, they have become an extension of our bodies, and we embrace that in our dance moves,” says Schaikewitz, who has been a member of the team since 2008. As part of the troupe, she gets to perform for a wide variety of audiences, and that’s a lot of fun. “Doing 360-degree wheelies in sync with the other dancers is one of my favorite moves,” she says. “It surprises people