Photographer's Note

Last weekend I saw the China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe for the second time – this one was at the opening concert of the Asia-Pacific Youth Arts Festival in Shenzhen – and I was as enthralled by their performance as much as I was when I first saw them in Beijing last year.

The 21 dancers are deaf and mute, so they take their dance cues from two instructors who stand at the side of the stage. The grace and symmetry that they achieve would be impressive even for dancers who were not hearing impaired, but the fact that they cannot hear the music makes their performance all the more amazing.

This is their best-known dance – the ‘Qianshou Kuanyin (Bodhisattva with 1,000 Hands) Dance’ – which they have performed in many countries around the world. My 1/60th sec shutter speed has caught a couple of their arms slightly out of sync, but to the naked eye their synchronisation looks perfect.

I was sitting next to someone from China Central Television (who produced the show) and he told me this was the seventh time he had seen them perform, and he gets a lump in his throat every time. The way in which these young women have overcome their disability, and become world famous performers, could be an inspiration to hearing impaired people everywhere.

The background is soft because the dance was performed in front of a large man-made waterfall and there was a mist drifting across the stage. I couldn’t avoid cutting off the bottom of the dancers’ dresses because I was sitting below the level of the stage, so I hope that doesn’t detract too much from the enjoyment of the photograph. It was shot at ISO-400, noise removed with Neat Image, and then I did some colour correction because the stage lights had made the skin tones too orangey.

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Additional Photos by David Astley (banyanman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1231 W: 108 N: 2568] (7797)
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