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This group of dancers in wheelchairs proves you don't need feet to dance

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A group of six women in wheechairs in Southern California are redefining what it means to be a dancer and be pretty damn good at it. They're called the Rollettes, and they're putting a new spin on dancing.

"We want to push that boundary of showing the world that dance is dance, whether you're walking or you're rolling," says Chelsie Hill, founder of the Rollettes, a dance group comprised of six women who are all paralyzed from the waist down.

Rollettes_rehearsal
Five of the six members rehearse with choreographer G Madison for their performance at the Hollywood Christmas Parade in Los Angeles, California.

“For us, this group of girls isn’t just a dance team. We’re a sisterhood, a family.”
Chelsie Hill, Founder of The Rollettes

"I was in a car crash five—almost six—years ago," says Maria Rabaino, a Rollettes member who lives in Northern California (she rehearses remotely). "The driver had been drinking, and he lost control of the car while speeding int he rain. And we hit two trees, spun across the street. The seatbelt, while it kept me alive, kept me from getting brain damage, also broke my back, which severed my spinal cord."

The group was started by Chelsie Hill, who was left paralyzed after a car accident seven years ago. She was 17 years old and in her senior year of high school. An avid dancer, she wanted a way to keep doing what she loved.

"I started it because I didn't want to be alone, and I wanted to meet other girls just like me," said Hill.

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I get to work with some dancers who cannot use the lower half of their body, yet they use so much more of their soul.
G Madison, The Rollettes' choreographer

The 4-year-old dance group based in California has been all over the world, including San Francisco and Germany. But they do more than just perform at venues, conferences and expos or uploading videos of their dances to YouTube. They also have what they call "The Rollettes Experience," a summit that brings dancers with disabilities from around the world for a weekend of dance workshops.

"Growing up, I never had anyone who I can look up to," said Edna Serrano, a Rollettes member from San Diego. "Now, to be that role model for those kids is something I really, really love."

All the members have jobs outside of the Rollettes, but they try to rehearse at least once a week. They make sure to do it with the best, too. Their choreographer for special events, G Madison, has choreographed for Mariah Carey and danced for Lady Gaga.

Rollettes Hollywood Xmas Parade
The Rollettes performing at the Hollywood Christmas Parade on Nov. 26.

"I get to work with some dancers who cannot use the lower half of their body, yet they use so much more of their soul," says Madison.

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Related stories on Circa:
This is the first runway model in a wheelchair, and she is shaking up the industry
Here's how a mom's love instilled a sense of adventure in her son with cerebral palsy
Physically disabled veterans mentor, inspire kids at National Wheelchair Games

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