The dazzling opening ceremony of the Beijing Paralympics has been hailed a success by organisers. Zhang Heping , director of the Beijing Organising Committee for the opening and closing ceremonies department, described it as an exciting presentation to the country and the world. 'Judging from the audience reaction at the stadium and many comments afterwards I can see that people approved,' he said. Some 4,813 performers took part, 423 of them disabled. Zhang Jigang , director of the ceremony, said his team started planning the main theme about two years ago, as preparations for the opening and closing ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics began. 'If the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games tried to convey China's 5,000 years of culture, the opening ceremony of the Paralympics depicted a common family in which all human beings live together,' he said. The performance of 12-year-old Li Yue , who lost her left leg in the Sichuan earthquake in May, was among the highlights. She realised her dream of becoming a ballet performer with the help of dozens of dancers who used their arms to represent her footwork. She was chosen after Zhang Jigang read about her in a newspaper. 'Li Yue has suffered a lot, but she got to experience utmost happiness with the chance to realise her dream.' As with the flame-lighting ceremony for the Olympics, a former athlete lit the cauldron. Hou Bin , a three-time Paralympic champion, hauled himself up 35 metres in a wheelchair to reach it. Zhang Jigang said the message to the world was that only hard work and dedication could bring success. 'I told him he must get up there, even if he had to take a quick break in the middle. I'm really happy he did it.' Hou trained for several months and was able to complete the climb in two minutes, 47 seconds during practice. During the ceremony it took about four minutes and he looked tired at some points. The head director of the opening and closing ceremony for both the Olympics and Paralympics, Zhang Yimou , praised the performance under Zhang Jigang's guidance and said he gave the team a perfect score of '100 points'. One of the key factors in the success of both ceremonies has been the number of performers, described by many critics as 'horde tactics'. Zhang Yimou said using many performers was the only way to create an electrifying atmosphere. 'Don't you think westerners want to find 3,000 performers of the same size and weight [for ceremonies]? They want to, but they don't have the population or money to do it.' The Paralympics end on September 17. Zhang Heping said: 'The opening ... was a big success. We're determined to complete our duties with an extraordinary closing party.'