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From the pool to the dance floor: World champion Paralympic swimmer wins ballroom dancing title


Today marks the 26th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities — people like Cheryl Angelelli. A former Paralympic swimmer, Angelelli holds four Paralympic medals and won seven world championships.


Now, Angelelli is taking her talents to the dance floor. This week, she’s competing in the Dancing World Championshipsin Las Vegas. She and her partner Tamerlan Gadirov won a medal last night at the championships.


Credit Courtesy of Cheryl Angelelli
Cheryl Angelelli performs with her partner Tamerlan Gadirov at the Dancing World Championships.

Angelelli began ballroom dancing after she retired from competitive swimming.

"When I made that difficult decision in 2013 to retire from competitive swimming, it left this huge void in my life," Angelelli said. "I was looking for something that would give me the same excitement and adrenaline rush that swimming did."

Angelelli discovered wheelchair ballroom dancing while competing as a swimmer in Europe, where wheelchair ballroom dancing is much more popular than it is in the U.S. A dancer as a child, she hoped to dance again.

When Angelelli found out that the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Bloomfield Hills was offering classes for wheelchair ballroom dancing, she called immediately. After her third session, where she performed a routine for the first time, she was hooked.

"From that minute, I fell in love with ballroom dancing," she said. 

Angelelli now runs a Dance Mobility program in partnership with the Fred Astaire Dance Studio.The program gives dance lessons to people in wheelchairs and their partners. She also runs a dance program for people with amputated limbs.


Angelelli joins Stateside to talk about her performances at the Dancing World Championships and her work at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio. Listen in at 3.


Watch Angelelli and her partner Tamerlan Gadirov perform below.




The Fred Astaire Dance Studio will run its next Wheelchair Ballroom Dance Class on August 27 from 11:00 to 12:30 p.m. For more information on that class, or on classes for people with amputated limbs, you can call 248-454-1715.


GUEST Cheryl Angelelli is a 4-time paralympic medalist in swimming and 7-time world champion. She tweets at @quad_swimmer.


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