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Wenchuan: Ballet girl's dancing words

Updated: 2013-05-09 14:43
(China Daily)

Li Yue was barely in her teens when she survived the earthquake. The price for life that the young ballet lover paid was to have one leg amputated. But that has not stopped her, and she has channeled her energy into another talent, writing.

The 16-year-old now has three books under her name. The first, My Heart Will Dance On, came out in mid-2010. The second was published in June 2011. And her latest collection of journals and essays that chronicles her time in Sichuan, The Heart Dances When Time Passes On, was published last August.

"She's clearly writer's material," says Yin Shanshan, a Beijing-based columnist who knew Li well. Yin says Li's writing speaks the truth and reflects a gentility and maidenly outlook rare in today's youth literature.

Wenchuan: Ballet girl's dancing words

Li Yue lost her left leg in the 2008 Wenchuan quake. [Photo by Guo Tieliu/Beijing News]

Li's prolific output of a book a year may need to take a temporary respite this year as she tackles a project that needs her undivided attention — her high school entrance examination.

Like every student facing the test this summer, Li is obviously under pressure. Getting into a better high school means a better chance of getting into a good college. A solid education is the foundation.

At least that's what her mother believes and constantly drums into her.

Li still considers the Beijing Dance Academy her dream college, though homework leaves her little time for practice.

She has been known as the Ballet Girl since 2008 when she was forced to let go of her left leg after being buried for 77 hours under debris in the earthquake.

She recovered with determination and later danced at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Paralympic Games.

Li now boards at her middle school in Mianyang and crams for the test with her fellow classmates.

"She eats very little and is very nervous about the exams," her mother Li Jiaxiu says.

The rail-thin young woman doesn't have to worry about the test in Chinese.

"Chinese has always been her strength and she likes to read," her mother says. But Li had studied in Beijing with a different set of textbooks and requirements before she came back to Sichuan last year. Getting used to a new system again is hard work.

"She's silent and keeps to herself when she's under pressure," according to her mother.

Luckily, she has classmates who form a support group to help her with both her books and her life.

According to her principal, Deng Caiming, Li is more than just a recipient of love.

He says the girl warms others with a "heart full of love". He says she tried to find another girl who had lost a right leg so that they can buy a pair of pretty shoes together.

"You can see she has learned from her pain and grown to become a calm, open person," he says.

Apart from her heavy load at school, Li is just another teenager. She listens to Katy Perry, watches Miyazaki Hayao's movies and follows Korean TV dramas.

Yin Shanshan says she's the same as any curious, slightly rebellious, healthy teenager of today, except that she is still suffering from the trauma of quakes.

When Beichuan recently went through a minor aftershock, she posted on her Weibo: "I'm so scared my leg gave in." However, when the Ya'an earthquake struck, Li was already able to tell her friends: "Stay strong! My heart will always be with you!"

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