Wheelchair dancer defies expectations

By Jennifer Grubb ( this article originally appeared on hlntv.com)

Judith Smith’s life changed in a split second.   One minute she was a champion equestrian, the next she was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. “I was injured when I was seventeen in a car accident,” she says.  “It was pretty shocking because I had planned on having a career jumping horses…I didn’t have a plan B… I think it probably took me about ten years to really figure out that okay, this is it, and I've got to figure out how to live my life and go on about my business.”

She discovered dancing gave her freedom.  “One of the fun things about starting to dance was figuring out how to use this machine in a way that wasn't just about going from point A to point B,” she recalls.  In 1987, Judith co-founded AXIS Dance Company.  The Oakland, California based group is made up of dancers with and without physical disabilities. “The adjectives that we most often hear are mind-blowing and inspiring,” she explains.  “I think it completely surprises people what can happen when you get people together who move so incredibly differently from each other…I think a lot of times people go away feeling differently about human potential and they're own potential.”

AXIS has taught Judith that she can do anything:  “The limitations that we have in our lives are ones that we set on ourselves.”