With robot as dancing partner, double amputee dazzles at Paralympic opening ceremony
Amy Purdy's story inspires Israeli designer to create a 3D-printed dress for the performance.
The Paralympic Games started with pomp and circumstance last night in Rio with high-flying acts featuring some of the athletes – including a wheelchair-bound athlete from Las Vegas who hurtled down a 55-foot ramp with fireworks exploding on either side before flying through a hoop and performing a front flip in the air.
Another that caught our attention was Amy Purdy, an American snowboarder who medaled at the 2014 Paralympics. The 36-year-old, who lost both of her legs after a severe bout of meningitis, performed an elegant samba dance at the opening ceremony – with a robot. Watch a short clip in the video below:
But it wasn't just her odd choice of dancing partners that made our eyes pop. Her outfit was no normal fashion statement; she was wearing a 3D-printed dress, created by Israeli fashion designer Danit Peleg. The 28-year-old completed the impressive 3D-printed collection as part of her final project while studying at the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Israel, one of the world's leading fashion schools.
American audiences got their first look at Peleg's creations when she unveiled them last fall during a visit to supermodel Tyra Banks' FABLife TV Show.
"In my view, the story of what happened to Amy is like a rebirth," Peleg said about the Paralympian. "I was inspired by Sandro Botticelli's painting The Birth of Venus. The many diamond shapes present in the painting's composition and the nude color of Venus gave me a direction for the dress."
She said it took 100 hours to print the dress at her studio in Tel Aviv, Israel. "I hadn’t met Amy before the first fitting, but just a month before the ceremony. I wanted the dress to fit her perfectly, so I used an app called Nettelo to get Amy’s exact measurements and print a highly personalized dress."
Peleg said she loved the idea of creating a dress for Purdy. "With an incredibly strong character and the help of technology Amy can walk, become a Paralympic medalist, dance with the stars, and now dance at this incredibly moving ceremony."
Peleg has become somewhat of a leading voice in the nascent world of 3D-printed fashion. Below, she gives a brief TED Talk to explain her process, and the future of shopping:
As for Purdy the Paralympian, this was not the first time she has danced in front of millions. She was a contestant on the spring 2014 edition of "Dancing with the Stars," where she was the first double amputee to ever compete on the hit show. But that didn't seem to slow her down. Her performance average of 27.9 out of 30 is among the top 10 highest ever on the show's history.
Purdy is now a motivational speaker and inspired millions when she and her partner Daniel Gale participated in "The Amazing Race," a reality show where contestants endure a grueling trip around the globe. Last year, she appeared in a Super Bowl ad for Toyota, which featured her snowboarding, dancing and adjusting her prosthetic legs with a voiceover of Muhammad Ali's "How Great I Am" speech.
You can watch the inspirational video below:
MORE FROM THE GRAPEVINE: