It’s Strictly season, a family favourite, though recently we have been a bit put off by the increasing number of ringers. It started with boy/girl band members and lifelong acting aspirants who had grown up with a battery of dancing lessons in theatre school culminating with ‘contestant’ Debbie McGee last year who was actually a professional dancer.

Part of the charm of the Strictly format (“Dancing With The Stars” in the USA) is the embrace of novelty and being a novice leading to inevitable struggles and failures. A much more compelling arc of progress when the musicality and fluidity starts to kick in starting from early failures. One of the classic categories of the true footloose neophytes are the athletes (In fact, DWTS pretty much took off when they secured A-list athletes Evander Holyfield to participate).

Since the emergence of para-sport with the London 2012 Paralympics, para-athletes have become celebrities in the sporting world. Contestants like Paralympic sprinter Jonnie Peacock add physical disability (in a very physical activity) to out-of-comfort-zone novelty to make that challenge even more imposing. This year’s Lauren Stedman has been one of the more enjoyable contestants to follow as she brings her grace and grit to the dance floor.

Her Sunday Times piece “Lauren Steadman on being a disabled contestant on Strictly Come Dancing” shared many of her challenges in this novel world of glitter and sequins as well as a quite striking embrace of her disability.

  • Would I say yes to an arm if someone offered it to me now? No way. The people who care about how I look can walk away, because I can’t change myself. I’m proud of having one arm. It’s part of me.”

Imagine if you were transported to a planet where everyone had more than 2 arms and a journalist came up to you and asked “How does it feel to have only two arms?” Sure, you would probably witness a number of tricks and conveniences that the 4 armed folks managed, but it’s not clear how despondent you would feel having only your two.

What is the sound of clapping for one hand?

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