Wheels of difference

Jun 04, 2013, 06:56 IST | Kanika Sharma

Inspiration and healing are found in the unlikeliest of places. This Friday, watch the unique prowess of 12 differently-abled performers who will astound you with a chariot of wheelchairs and much more

This kind of performance has no mention in the Natyashastra. A first in the history of Indian Classical Dance, the differently-abled will give a new meaning to dance. Twelve remarkable individuals will be coming together to use the symbol of wheelchairs in a liberating fashion. “It’s a new revolution,” exclaims Syed Sallaudin Pasha, winner of the National Award for his unprecedented efforts in the field of empowerment for the differently-abled.

A performance still from Miracle On Wheels

From Bharatanatyam to Sufi and even Martial Arts, these unique performers - who have performed in India and abroad — will be executing several dance forms after rigorous years of training. “When the differently-abled come to me, they are raw and hardly trained. From five or seven-year-olds to 20-year-olds, individuals come to me for healing,” relates Pasha. The performance will not only include the physically challenged but the hearing impaired who have been trained in rhythm therapy to intone their performance. Commonly addressed as Guruji, his contribution has earned him the moniker “Father of Indian Therapeutic Theatre” for the differently-abled.

Syed Sallaudin Pasha teaching Chhau to his students

Hailing from a family of healers, Pasha tells us that his formal training in choreography and medical education has led him to insights into how music and dance can be used as effective tools to heal. Pasha remarks, “As we know, music can heal plants and animals. In Samveda, communication only happens through music or shlokas.

As dance is connected to the body and mind, its effectiveness is tremendous.” Born in a village near Bangalore, Pasha is elated that his Ability Unlimited Therapeutic Centre in Ghaziabad has come back to a village. “In our villages, disabilities are often thought of as a curse of previous lives. Plus, with 70% of the population living in rural areas, our location becomes important.”

Pasha leaves us with a thought, “Next time, you see a wheelchair, think of chariots and crutches as bows and arrows.” The performance will be followed by a lecture demonstration on the next day.

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