Ritzy glitz meets rubber in push to keep unique sport alive
LYNETTE Gordon-Smith was teaching others you don't need legs to spin the pants of a dance partner 16 years before she finally needed a wheelchair of her own.
To this day, the Allora woman said she is the only person in Australia with recognised qualifications to train wheelchair dancing instructors.
She discovered the passion when she was younger and able-bodied.
It all began with a rare opportunity to train with with Corrie van Hugten, the Dutch wheelchair dancing founder who led a one-off workshop in Sydney in 1990.
Since then, Mrs Gordon-Smith has travelled the world sharing a unique skill that brings "unbelievable joy" to people who might otherwise sit on the wall at balls and discos.
"From the first moment they came out on the dance floor I just fell in love with what it could give people," she said.
Seeing the joy, jazz and sense of inclusion dancing brought to peoples lives, Mrs Gordon-Smith became determined to share her passion.
"It gives them the opportunity to be equal," she said.
"For some it got to the stage where they didn't even really see the wheelchair any more."
Over the years, Mrs Gordon-Smith has led workshops around Australia and taken a team of elite dancers to the 2006 World Para DanceSport Championships in the Netherlands, where they won medals in three major events.
Seeing her students performing for former Governor-General Quentin Bryce is another highlight she looks back on with pride.
But in 2006, Mrs Gordon-Smith came to see first hand the value of what she was giving others.
Peripheral vascular disease started to affect blood circulation in her limbs, and she found she was having to rely on a wheelchair as well.
"It was a reality check," Mrs Gordon-Smith said.
"But the beauty of wheelchair dancing is that as long and I can talk I can still teach."
Losing partial mobility didn't take Mrs Gordon-Smith's passion away from her.
In fact, she said instructing had become easier in some ways because she understood what it was like for others.
Throughout the journey, Mrs Gordon-Smith's right-hand man and dance partner has been her devoted husband Chris.
He has learnt to push, instruct and share in the love for everything to do with music and movement.
The two, who used to run classes at Warwick State High School, plan to continue imparting their passion and skill to others in the disability community.