Spotlight on unique abilities

Unlimited Skills

Spotlight on unique abilities

There is a lot of stigma that comes along with being differently-abled – from being called names to sympathetic glances, they are treated differently. ‘Ability Unlimited Foundation’ (AUF), a charitable foundation that helps differently-abled people lead an independent life, recently had a show in the City to dispel some of these stereotypes.

The troupe, from a blind Nagisa to a mute and hearing impaired Alka, Priya, Jyoti and Karuna, ‘wow’ed the audience with their artistic skills at Phoenix MarketCity recently. It was a night to remember as Nagisa sang Rajkumar’s famous song ‘Huttidare Kannada Nadalli Huttabeku’ and Alka and the gang fluidly synchronised their moves to a bharatanatyam number, having never heard the music.

Guru Syed Sallauddin Pasha, founder of AUF, said that he spends hours choreographing the dance numbers and putting himself in the place of the differently-abled. “For the first time, we have a wheelchair that will move at 200 kmph. The dancers will attempt various types of dance forms on these.” He added that he tied himself with a rope to a wheelchair for eight to ten hours a day, falling and hurting himself, in order to get the choreography right.

There were various dances that awed the audiences. To begin with, the troupe performed to a Sufi song, which spoke of universal peace and harmony. Then, people on wheelchairs performed ‘asanas’. According to Syed, this piece has taken years to get right. Another wheelchair performance was the traditional Manipuri martial arts form of ‘tang ta’, which involves sword fighting. The piece was inspired from the ‘Bhagvad Gita’ on the 10 incarnations of Vishnu. Syed said, “AUF is about national integration – I’ve read the Koran and Puran!” The night ended with the singing of ‘Vande Mataram’.

On why he started AUF, Syed said he saw a lot of injustice being meted out to the differently-abled around him. “India is not a very disabled-friendly country and I want to transform that, the way people think. Most people see a wheelchair as a sign of disability but I want them to realise that it’s actually a sign of ability,” he said. “I wanted to bring the specially-abled people on to a platform where they are empowered, included and have some dignity,” he added.

Talking about her love for singing, Nagisa said, “I have always loved singing, since I was young. If guruji (Syed) hadn’t found me, I’d have probably been working in a garments factory.” Alka wrote, “I have loved to dance since I was young.” Since then, she and the troupe have travelled the world and have starred on shows like ‘Satyamev Jayate’.

The show was sponsored by the ‘Standing Ovation’ event management company. Hema Nayak, owner, said, “I’m a firm believer of music therapy since I’m a musician myself. When I heard about them and saw them, I couldn’t resist taking up this project.”

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