Paralympic Opening Ceremony

October 29, 2012

My name is James Palamara and I am a member of the Danceworks staff team. With Danceworks’ recent celebration of athletes and our consistent commitment to the dancer in us all, I wanted to share an experience that I found inspiring and personally very moving. I had the great privilege of attending the opening ceremony for the Paralympic Games.

As many of you may have seen, a deeply creative almost dream-like story unfolded. From the cosmos to our imaginations, we were reminded that everything we now believe possible was once believed to be impossible.True role models were displayed showing how dreams can come true. The music and the dancing carried us along the journey and the dancers, were eloquent and graceful whether able bodied or not, proving once again truly anyone can dance. The joy expressed on their faces shows dancing is an activity for everyone to enjoy.

Although the spectacle was awe inducing what truly touched me was the underlying message of the ceremony. I felt no separation from the disabled; in fact I felt invited into a world of acceptance. In our day to day world we are often ostracised for being different. Judged for being unique. Somewhere along the line an internal dialogue begins telling us we are not enough. The idea of “normal” leaves us feeling isolated. But the opening ceremony was a celebration of our diversity: a world wide acknowledgement that whatever we were taught to believe, our so called ‘flaws’ can be the source of our strength, our beauty and even what binds us together. The opening ceremony united us as a global community honouring human uniqueness on a grand scale. As the sign language interpreter taught the stadium the words “I am somebody, I am what I am” I got tingles up my spine. Thousands of people stating that their existence, as they are, is enough. This is strengthened by the example set by the Paralympians, showing that we can turn any difficulty into Gold.

My issues may not be as apparent as others but I have found my self immobile, frozen in fear, lost in doubt, suffering in isolation. The Paralympic celebration gave a voice to all who struggle in life. Showing courage is not the absence of fear but action in the face of fear. We are not alone, but put here to achieve and help each other achieve greatness. We celebrated our struggles, our individuality and the strength of community to help us overcome obstacles. Thank you athletes, thank you volunteers and most of all thank you to all the participants who took the Paralympic message to their hearts and passed it on through gratitude and kindness to all those in need.