It was a children’s dance-drama festival with a difference. At New Delhi’s LTG Auditorium recently, a group of ‘disabled’ children left the audience spellbound with their natural, joyful performances. Some of the children could not hear, others could not see or had difficulty walking. And still others were grappling with mental challenges. But that was no dampener to their spirits as they performed to an appreciative audience of eager parents, teachers and children.
The Annual Inter School Dance-Drama Festival saw over 300 children from 20 schools all over Delhi, participate in the event. What was important was the manner in which all of them overcame their challenges to become performers with joyous abandon.
The theme of the festival was seasons. Each school had to depict a particular season using dance, free movement or mime, but no dialogue. While some children danced to the chilly winds of winter, others rejoiced at the onset of spring. Still others did a delightful monsoon dance. The result was a perky, spontaneous performance by the children, which enthralled everyone present.
Some of the young actors were so pleased with their own performance that they refused to leave the stage. They wanted to dance all over again!
The schools participating were Aanchal, Model School, Kulachi Hansraj, Balwant Rai Mehta, Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan, Enabling Centre and the Special Wings of Shri Ram School and Sanskriti School, to name a few.
A new aspect was added to the festival for the first time. It enabled children without disabilities and those with physical and mental disabilities to perform together. It was called the Integrated Group. Both groups worked together for weeks to come up with a beautiful dance-drama.
So good were all the children, that it was difficult to spot the difference. They were seen for what they were – a group of friends working towards a common goal. The Shri Ram School and the Enabling Centre put up a dazzling performance in this category.
The festival is now in its sixth year. It is organised annually by Very Special Arts India, a non governmental organisation (NGO) working with the disabled.
The people who work in this NGO feel that creative arts are a very good way for people with mental and physical challenges to gain confidence.
The idea is that no mental or physical challenge need limit the human potential to create. The NGO organises artistic events for children and adults to show their talents to the rest of society.
And indeed, there wasn’t a trace of nervousness in the children who performed at the festival. There was a great eagerness to perform, for each child knew that it was his or her ability alone that was being judged. Many of the children went back with medals and trophies, but every child went back with something far more important. A big smile and a real sense of achievement.