If you think that a wheelchair is a sign of disability, watch the children of Ability Unlimited Foundation take to their ‘wheeled legs’, for their knack, talent and aptitude for classical dance and music would make people sitting in the audience feel edgy.
With steely nerves of experiencing the pleasure of fine arts, these “differently abled” persons are all set to present ‘Ramayana on Wheels’ – a moving saga of our famed mythology in dance form, with graceful stories weaved in classical Bharatanatya, Kathak, Sufi and yogic poses for ‘Nirantharam’, a national music and dance festival, of Sangeetha Sambhrama unfolding on January 23 at 6 p.m. at the Chowdiah Memorail Hall. If the hearing or speeches impaired have their bhava perfect in their expressions, those with physical disabilities take to their roles on wheelchairs, their deft and sprightly movements mirroring their painstaking training and practice.
Founder, director and curator of Abilitt Unlimited Foundation Syed Salauddin Pasha comes from a family of healers from Anekal. Mr. Pasha’s forefathers were official ‘healers’ to the erstwhile Mysore Kingdom. “The art passed down to me too, and after I started with Kathak when I was barely six, I realised that dance movements helped children of this kind improve in more ways than one.” Children in his dance group suffer from varying conditions as polio, dyslexia, cerebral palsy and even autism. “My dance productions are designed to heal the mind and body, and aesthetics is a byproduct,” feels Mr. Pasha. “Our mission is to help those with disabilities realise their potential and spread the joy of dance,” he feels.
P. Ramaa of Sangeetha Sambhrama says: “These dancers prove that wheels can replace legs. Each of these moves were first perfected by MR. Pasha. For 15 years, he spent six hours daily on wheelchairs to understand the nitty-gritty of performing on wheels. We want people to come and encourage this truly special talent by giving them a standing ovation, for, some of them wouldn’t even hear if audiences applauded in appreciation!”
While Mr. Pasha received awards from institutions in the U.S. nearly two decades ago, India in 2007 recognised him with the National Award for Outstanding Performances in the field of empowerment of persons with disabilities. Mr. Pasha holds a Guinness World Record and Limca Record for creating 100 dance theatre productions and 10,000 performances across the world.