Sunday, March 16, 2014

On 'DWTS,' amputee Amy Purdy is 'a dancer like anyone else'

From USA Today:

Hough flew to Sochi to get in some training time before the show starts, working around Purdy's snowboarding schedule. "I'm very proud of her," he says. "The odds have been stacked against us with lack of rehearsal time and travel," but "it's amazing to see Amy's determination and drive."

Conrad Green, Dancing's executive producer, says Purdy "might surprise everyone."

While Purdy may not be able to point her toes, she will be able to wear high heels like the other female dancers. "I have an adjustable high-heel foot," she explains, that can go up to 2.5 inches. "I wear it for everything."

Purdy has special "legs" for snowboarding and another set for running. And now she has special legs for dancing.

During her first day of rehearsal in Sochi, she realized that her regular walking legs were not working for dancing. "My calf muscles were wanting to expand, but they couldn't because they're in carbon fiber. So it was painful. I thought, 'This can't happen, or I'm not going to be able to do this.'"

Luckily, there was a prosthetic shop at the Sochi Paralympics. "They rounded out the insides of my legs for my calves to expand." She's been able to pop into the shop whenever she's felt any discomfort.

And now, she says, she's not in any pain. "I want to get that across. At this point, my legs fit well enough to do what I'm going to be doing. I'm snowboarding and dancing, and in between, I'm walking really far."

She plans to wear sparkly, spangly costumes along with the rest of the Dancing gang. "I know there will be a lot of focus on my legs. But my hope is that people see me as a dancer like anyone else who is going through this. My hope is that it's not all about my legs."

Purdy realizes that she's on the world stage right now. But "the media make it sound so tragic. Of course, I was 19 years old, and I suddenly lost my legs. It was extremely traumatic at the time, but I'm so beyond that. I've done so much with my life."

Winning is her real focus now. She knows that Olympic gold-medal ice dancers Charlie White and Meryl Davis seem to have the edge over everyone, but that's not going to stop her. "I think people are going to expect them to do really well because this is what they do — they dance." She adds, "I love my Team USA family, but I'm going to do my best to beat them."