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Episode 53 – Meet Kaylee Bays: Wheelchair Ballerina from SYTYCD

Published: Thursday June 27, 2024

Pushing Forward with Alycia | A Disability Podcast

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Kaylee Bays: SYTYCD’s first ever wheelchair dancer

kaylee bays performing a dance move where she is standing in front of her wheelchair reaching backwards and holding the wheels behind her leaning back fully with one leg resting on the other legs knee with an image background gradient of orange to pink kaylee is wearing a black top and baggy purple pants

In this inspiring episode of “Pushing Forward with Alycia,” Alycia Anderson welcomes Kaylee Bays, the first wheelchair dancer to ever grace the stage of “So You Think You Can Dance“.

Alycia shares her admiration for Kaylee, by sharing a vulnerable story of how Kaylee reminded her of the ballerinas her father used to paint. Kaylee, with her unique blend of seated and standing dance movements, represents ambulatory wheelchair users and breaks down numerous stereotypes.

Kaylee recounts her journey from dancing at Disneyland to being diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). Despite her diagnosis, Kaylee continued to pursue her passion for dance, adapting her movements creatively and with expert innovation. She explains how being an ambulatory wheelchair user has challenged and enriched her artistry, allowing her to connect with and appreciate other dancers in new ways.

Key Takeaways:

🌟 Kaylee’s transition from a Disney performer to a wheelchair dancer

🎭 The creative process of adapting dance movements for wheelchair users

👩‍🦽 Breaking stereotypes: The intersection of apparent and non-apparent disabilities

🏆 The impact of Kaylee’s appearance on “So You Think You Can Dance” on disability representation

🎓 Advice for aspiring artists: The importance of community and self-acceptance

Challenges and misconceptions

Kaylee also discusses the challenges and misconceptions faced by ambulatory wheelchair users, emphasizing the need for greater inclusivity and representation in the media and dance spaces. She highlights her work with Studio Slay, a virtual dance studio offering accessible dance classes for disabled and able-bodied dancers alike.

Join us as Kaylee shares her dreams of touring with a major artist and her commitment to empowering the next generation of dancers. Her story is a testament to the power of resilience, creativity, and community.

Quote from Kaylee:

Often times when we go into the room, we’re being stared at anyways. You might as well give them something to look at.

Kaylee Bays

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Stay tuned for more inspiring conversations on Pushing Forward with Alycia. Open hearts, clear paths. Let’s go.