Performer who fell in rehearsal paralysed

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 August, 2008, 12:00am

The euphoria over Friday's spectacular opening ceremony has been tempered by confirmation that a performer injured during rehearsal is partially paralysed.

Celebrated dancer Liu Yan has lost all feeling below the waist, according to a blog posted yesterday by by Yangtze Evening News reporter Ju Jianfu.

Liu, a renowned traditional Chinese dancer from the Beijing Dance Academy, who was originally cast in a solo role in the four-hour show, fell during a jump from a 'flying blanket' to a moving platform pushed from beneath by a group of actors during a practice session on July 27.

The solo segment still formed part of Friday night's ceremony, but Liu was replaced by an understudy.

Ju was not available for comment. A staff member at the Yangtze Evening News said its management was aware of the blog entry, but he refused to say if the report would appear in print today.

Word of Liu's injuries from the opening ceremony preparations, which spanned more than three years, was withheld until after Friday's ceremony, although reports two days before the event said an unnamed performer had been seriously injured in rehearsal and may be partially paralysed.

During a China Central Television interview on Sunday, the ceremony's chief director, Zhang Yimou , attributed the success of the show to collective effort and sacrifices. Zhang made a veiled mention of an injury to a dancer.

Sun Weide , spokesman for the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, confirmed yesterday the dancer had been injured but he did not have details about the severity of her injury.

Mr Sun also declined to say how many actors had been injured in preparations for the performance.

Photographs posted on Ju's blog showed Zhang and two other co-directors of the show visiting the bed-ridden dancer.

'You're the deepest pain in my heart,' Zhang was quoted as saying. 'If I could see you stand on your feet again, it would make me much more excited and happier than any praise I've received.'

Many performers are willing to be associated with shows of such prestige at any cost. 'You guys have created a miracle for the world and I will do the same for all you three,' Liu was quoted as saying.