Dancing with the Rollettes

Chelsie Hill always wanted to be a professional dancer. She danced throughout her childhood and went to dozens of dance competitions. She spent hours and hours after school perfecting her dance technique.

Only three months before Chelsie was going to graduate from high school, she got into a bad car accident. This accident left her paralyzed from the waist down.

Hill knew her dance career would have to be put on hold while she healed. However, she never wavered from her commitment to her dream. Two years after her accident, she formed a dance troupe of women in wheelchairs. Her troupe was called the Rollettes. The Rollettes use their upper body to sway and rock to music. They also create their own choreography and swerve their wheelchairs to the beat of the music.

Even for Chelsie Hill, dancing with only her upper body was a challenge. She had to learn how to move her body differently. Now, she teaches other young women to dance like her.

Many members of the Rollettes talk about the friendships they have made by being a part of this troupe. They share their experiences of living life in a wheelchair. They also connect over their love of dancing. The Rollettes mentor younger girls in wheelchairs and inspire audiences across the United States. Their performances raise money for spinal cord research.

In 2019, 175 girls and women from 10 different countries met up to participate in an annual summer camp hosted by the Rollettes. They took dance classes and participated in talent shows. Many of the attendees spoke about finding a community where they could fully be themselves.

Hill says, “When I’m performing, I still feel the same rush that I used to. And when I go on stage, I don’t feel my chair. I don’t feel different. I’m just dancing, and that’s where my heart is.” She hopes younger girls will be inspired by her story and be encouraged to never give up on their dreams.