“When I danced in the beginning on a wheelchair, I was very excited that I could do this again. Then I came almost every day to dance. I really liked it. It’s for the soul. It’s for the body. It’s for everything. And it’s fun.”
When Israel’s Tomer Margalit performed at 2018 Para Dance Sport European Championships in Lomianki, Poland, her twin sister Liron danced along from the side.
Sometimes, Liron would accidentally step onto the dance floor, as she was so caught up in filming her sister’s performance.
“I’m very happy when I see her happy,” Liron said. “When I see her dancing, I remember when we used to dance together.”
The sisters danced since they were three years old.
They did all sorts of styles – ballet, modern, hip-hop, jazz and street dance – on an Israeli national team.
But when Tomer was 14, she sneezed, and everything changed.
“My body was confused, and it attacked itself,” Tomer explained. “It’s called autoimmune. It’s a disease when the body attacks itself.”
She was paralysed from the waist down and did not dance for eight years.
A few years ago, Tomer was invited to try Para dance sport.
“I said no, no I can’t because I’m in a wheelchair,” Tomer said. “And she said to just come and see it.”
“When I danced in the beginning on a wheelchair, I was very excited that I could do this again,” she said. “Then I came almost every day to dance. I really liked it. It’s for the soul. It’s for the body. It’s for everything. And it’s fun.”
Tomer’s dancing background was evident at November’s European Championships.
She performed along to Sia’s “The Greatest,” emphasising the lyrical lines “I’m free to be the greatest, I’m alive.”
Her freestyle routine earned her the silver medal in the women’s class 1 category.
She also reached the women’s singles standard final and claimed another silver.
Slovakia’s Helena Kasicka and Ukraine’s Illona Slugovyna won the freestyle and standard gold medals, respectively. Both have world and European titles on their resumes.
Tomer just completed her first season, and only second World Para Dance Sport event. Her first was at the Mainhatten Cup in Germany, where she won a gold, silver and bronze.
Compared to her experienced counterparts, Para dance still appeared new for Tomer.
But just as dancing came back naturally, dancing in a wheelchair will look natural in due time.
“It’s crazy, I was nervous, I was very excited,” Tomer said. “And now I’m very happy.”
When Tomer accepted her medal, Liron rushed on the dance floor to take photos.
When the medals ceremony concluded and filler music sounded throughout the venue, Tomer danced with her sister.
“I know how much it was important for her to come back and dance and it just fulfils your dreams again,” Liron said.