Making the soul dance
Dancing is her life. In fact, it also keeps Eva-Maria Nussdorfer alive, in many ways. The wheelchair is also part of it. Ever since she was 7 years old, it has been her daily companion, her vehicle, her support. Initially, she did not realise that she could also dance with it.
Eva-Maria was diagnosed with bone cancer when she was six years old, and later she also developed muscular dystrophy. She has successfully beaten the cancer, but the muscle weakness continues to plague her. The first consequence was the wheelchair, followed years later by a tracheotomy, an artificial opening in the windpipe. By now, Ms Nussdorfer can only move her fingers. But she can still dance!
The Austrian "stumbled" across wheelchair dancing on the internet, so to speak, while she was looking for a hobby for wheelchair patients. Since she requires the use of an electric wheelchair, the choice of hobbies was not that great, but dance interested her. She wrote to the local club in Salzburg and was invited to a try-out training session. When she entered the room, she saw her current friend Sanja Vukasinovic (3-time European Vice Champion and European Single Freestyle Champion) dancing with her wheelchair and was fascinated. She has been hooked on dancing ever since - for the past 15 years she has poured her heart and soul into it. Dancing, she says, is the most beautiful hobby.
Eva-Maria Nussdorfer (born 1987)
Andreas Fahl Medizintechnik-Vertrieb GmbH has been actively caring for her for the last 10 years. The contact has existed since the initial meeting in the hospital, following the tracheotomy. She particularly appreciates the competent commitment of her HCP from FAHL, Andreas Wirth, who always tries to come up with a solution. (Thanks Andi!)
From amateur to professional dancer
Her coach Diethard Govekar says that they first had to think about how to integrate the electric wheelchair into the team. Until then, they only knew how so-called active wheelchairs worked. But Eva-Maria's motivation and ambition very quickly convinced the coach. From the beginning it was clear to Eva that dancing just for fun was simply not enough, she wanted to join the national team! This of course means constant training. Each week she trains at the club for two to three hours, and before tournaments she also trains on the weekends. She also attends training camps on a regular basis.
In her long dancing career she has danced in many different disciplines, with and without a partner. She can look back on numerous medals and successes, e.g., in dual dancing she won gold at the German Cup in 2018.
But Eva-Maria Nussdorfer has also solo danced her way to gold. After her partner ended his career, she decided to continue as a solo dancer. So far, her biggest success has been qualifying for the elite class sighting pool last year, the last step before making it to the national team. And the next big goal is the Paralympic Games!
The tournament trips are organised for her by the club. Her mother Maria accompanies her on these trips and is of course her biggest fan. Without her support, participation would not be possible at all. Because of the medical supplies she needs on the road, she has to plan everything carefully and always has her medical equipment with her in triplicate.
But during the competition, her illness no longer matters. "At the tournament I am not Eva-Maria with a tracheostomy, but Eva-Maria the athlete, competing for her country Austria". Dancing is a world of its own for her. One which is about rhythm, patterns of motion and interpretation. Once Eva-Maria is on the dance floor, it's just her, her wheelchair, and the music.
She also loves the beautiful dance dresses. Currently she owns four: one white, one pink, one green-black, and, especially for the freestyle class, her purple dress. Besides the glamorous gowns, Eva-Maria's radiant smile is a definite eye-catcher! She moves through the space with precision and timing to the rhythm of the music and enchants her audience. For someone who sees her dancing in her e-wheelchair for the very first time, it is a stunning experience. In wheelchair dancing, the dance steps are usually replaced by the dancer's arms. Since Eva-Maria can only move her fingers, her electric wheelchair does most of the work. This means that, with her joystick, she displays all leg, arm and other joint movements, precisely coordinated with and choreographed to the music. Someone in the audience once said: "I don't see the feet, but I see the music!".
Besides dancing, Eva-Maria works part-time at the Bergheim municipality as a telephone operator, among other things. Speaking comes easily to her. In recent years, she has tried out a number of aids and she is now quite comfortable with her Duratwix tracheostomy tube coupled with a speaking valve. The energetic woman from Bergheim does not mind coping with everyday life.
But dancing always comes first for her. "Dancing is my life. Before I took up dancing, I was very shy. Ever since I started dancing, I have become much more self-assured," she says, smiling her radiant smile. Already during our interview we were very impressed by Eva-Maria's personality and willpower. In life there may be the odd stumbling block, but for Eva-Maria Nussdorfer life is a dance that inspires her soul.
Salzburg Wheelchair Dance Sport Club WheelChairDancer
"You don't have to know how to dance, but you can learn it with us ... just for fun or more, depending on what you want. Just drop by and give it a try! We are looking forward to meeting you!
(Wheelchair) dancing is dreaming with the soul on wheels ..."