Healing disability with performing arts

November 9th, 2008 - 10:03 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 9 (IANS) Folk dances by one-legged dancers, a performance by a visually-impaired flute player and singer, and a presentation by youngsters with impaired hearing and speech here during Sambhav 2008 was proof that art has the power to heal. The event here Sunday by mentally and physically challenged performers was held at India International Center, organised by Association for Learning Performing Art and Normative Action (ALPANA).

“There are a series of laws in place for safeguarding the rights of specially-abled people, specially for providing them equal opportunities for employment, education and public acceptance. In fact, even the law-makers are waking up to the reality of the ground level - the latest being the UN Convention 2008 that calls for reviewing institution for specially-abled and their right to play and recreate,” said Indira Jaisingh, an eminent jurist, lawyer and human rights activist.

The technical session of the seminar focused on dance, movement and theatre as therapies and the challenges and possibilities of healing through performing arts.

“Disability is a state of mind. Trust in healing medicine which keeps them connected to us,” said Guru Syeed Salauddin Pasha, a pioneer of Indian therapeutic theatre.

Sharing her valuable experiences as an exponent of dance Ammbika Kameshwar said: “Dance and theatre have a very deep-rooted healing effect and a child with disabilities needs stimulating inputs to help him reach his optimum level of functioning.” Kameshwar is the founder-director of RASA center for theatre, arts and special needs, Chennai.

Speakers at the function emphasized the need to build a platform through the arts for the specially-abled to breakthrough into the mainstream.

They included S.K. Jha, renowned connoisseur of Indian classical music and literature from Gujarat, Debashree Mukherjee, secretary of the Department of Social Welfare of the Delhi government and others from the field of music and theatre from four other countries.

The seminar was followed by five performances - the traditional Gitinatya from Orissa by children with intellectual disability, a royal court dance by a group form Sri Lanka, Nepal folk dances presented by one-legged dancers and visually-impaired flute player and singer, a performance from Bhutan by deaf and mute youngsters, and a fusion of classical and folk dances from Bangladesh. In addition, ALPANA’s home-production presented a blend of Odissi, fusion and melody.

The evening performance was also attended by Wajahat Habibullah, chief information commissioner of India, and Oscar Fernandes, India’s labour minster.

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