Moonwalk with a twist

Moonwalk with a twist

Twenty-five-year-old Prakash, can give other youngsters like him a run for their money, pulling off the Michael Jackson moonwalk. 

But what makes Prakash different is that he suffers from cerebral palsy. He is one of the many aspiring differently abled persons in the city, learning to dance thanks to the efforts of a group of volunteers.

Differently abled dancers compete and perform in various events alongside the volunteers. The group has volunteers and differently abled dancers who strive to promote inclusive dancing through Attam, an inclusive dance school.

“In 2015, Prakash was the only differently abled person in our group. He was incredibly talented and passionate about dancing, evident in his scintillating steps. We knew there were many like Prakash, who might not have a helping hand. It was then that we decided to fill this gap by teaching them dancing,” says Shruti Chinnasamy, dance coordinator and corporate professional.

Other differently abled talents in the group include hearing impaired Annie, who performs in various dance events and Saroja, a visually impaired Bharatanayam dancer, whose steps speak her heart. Dinesh, a wheelchair-bound dancer loves Bollywood as his shoulders and arms sway to the tunes.

“We train volunteers in teaching dance to the differently abled. There are certain techniques involved in teaching dance to them based on their abilities. Persons with hearing impairment are quick to learn the steps as they can watch and pick up,” notes Shruti.

As for the visually impaired, one has to hold them and teach them steps. They may need more time to learn. Those with autism are not comfortable dancing to loud music and hence special care is required.

“For those with physical disabilities that restrict movement, we have to teach them dance keeping in mind their abilities. In the case of the wheelchair-bound, we teach them dance involving their shoulders and hands,” says Shruti.

The group meets twice a month and also performs in various dance events, corporate gigs and fundraising events.

“A special memory close to our heart was when a marathon was kicked off with our differently abled dancers helping runners dance to their steps before the run,” adds Shruti.

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