See a Boston Bombing Survivor Do Something Most People Thought Would Never Happen Again


Less than a year after losing her part of her left leg in 2013's tragic Boston Marathon bombing, professional dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis isn't just back on her feet — she's cutting a rug all over again.

Haslet-Davis wowed attendees of TED2014 with a rumba dance routine — her first public dance performance since sustaining her injuries. Dressed in a glittering white costume that showed off her new bionic leg, she nailed passionate moves set to the tunes of Enrique Iglesias' "Ring My Bells."

"I'm a survivor, not a victim," she said. She's right.

The dance is the result of a partnership between Haslet-Davis' and Hugh Herr, director of the Biomechatronics Group at the MIT Media Lab.

Herr met Haslet-Davis at a rehab hospital in Boston after the bombing, and vowed to help her reach her goal of dancing again, saying, "Let's build her a bionic limb."

Image Credit: AP

Herr then spent 200 days researching the dynamics of dance to help Haslet-Davis live her dream. "In 3.5 seconds, the criminals and cowards took Adrianne off the dance floor," he said at the conference. "In 200 days, we put her back."

A double amputee himself (he lost both legs to severe frostbite at 17 in a climbing accident), Herr is no stranger to overcoming obstacles. And now, he and Haslet-Davis have become pioneers in what Herr calls "a call to arms to advance technology to the elimination of my own disability, and ultimately the disabilities of others."

Haslet-Davis appears overjoyed to be doing what many thought was impossible.

"I'm thrilled to have danced again," she said in a statement. "It was invigorating to dance publicly with my new leg, but also to realize that my return to dance may have the power to inspire other people to reach for their goals and be proactive in their lives."

For more behind-the-scenes science about this story head on over to the TED Blog.

Image Credit (All): James Duncan Davidson