Pianist making big steps in music
Pianist Liu Wei sits quietly to compose himself before plunging into the music. Then he takes off a sock.
The 23-year-old, whose arms were amputated after a childhood accident, plays the piano with his toes.
Liu was thrust into the limelight earlier this month when he performed on China's Got Talent, the Chinese version of the TV show that helped make Britain's Susan Boyle a singing star.
"Whatever other people do with their hands, I do with my feet. It's just that," said Liu, who plays with his left sock on.
China's Got Talent, which has also featured disabled modern dancers and break-dancing migrant workers, has been a hit since its launch in July, despite scepticism among some viewers about whether all the participants' stories are genuine. The programme is drawing attention to the hopes and challenges of the disabled and otherwise disadvantaged in China.
In his first appearance, Liu received a standing ovation from the audience, many of whom were moved to tears, for a performance of Mariage D'amour by Richard Clayderman.
Liu, who was 10 when he lost his arms after getting electrocuted playing hide-and-seek, uses his feet to navigate online, eat, dress and brush his teeth. "I wish I could go out driving to have fun. Apart from that, there is really nothing more I want to do," said Liu, who lives in Beijing. "Music has become a habit for me. It is just like breathing air."
Prosthetic limbs don't interest Liu. He has no need for special support, he said, though he conceded he has often met with discrimination.
Liu would like to be seen just as a pianist.
"Right now, everyone looks at me and says, 'Oh, Liu Wei has no arms and it's very difficult for him to play the piano,'" he said. "In the future, I want them to say, 'Oh he's good'. To first notice the work is great, and then say, 'Liu Wei did it'. What I demand is that my work be so good people won't notice that my arms are missing."