Disabled people are often looked at in only two ways: to be helped or pitied. There is always the need to fix them, to help them.
Disfix is a project that aims to ‘shift people’s perceptions around disability from something that requires fixing or evokes pity to a more positive, life affirming, independent and hopefully eye-opening perspectives.’ Beginning in May 2015, Disfix saw Nigerian choreographers Qudus Onikeku (Q-Dance Centre) and Dayo Liadi (Ijodee) working for months with UK Dance company, Candoco to create dance pieces featuring disabled and non-disabled dancers, people of diverse bodies.
Most of the disabled dancers are not professionals. Toyin who is wheelchair bound and performs in Ni’sonilojo (coexistence) with Ijodee has never had any dance training.
For the choreographers, working with disabled people was challenging. For Qudus, he chose to choreograph Iwa L’ewa (beauty), a piece which features four disabled and six non-disabled dancers and is drawn from the Yoruba myths of creation, the poetry of togetherness (the Ayajo Asuwada) which postulates that, while the individual is the unit of social life, he or she is also an integral part of the whole. Having two deaf dancers in his team meant having an interpreter during rehearsals, a need they found they could dispense with at times as the team bonded.
Getting the disabled dancers also meant paying visits to different organizations that catered to different conditions: the deaf school, the centre for Down’s syndrome, and even the streets of Lagos. Auditions were held at the different dance schools, before rehearsals began; first with the disabled dancers.
The Disfix dance showcase took place on the 23rd and 24th of October at Muri Okunola Park in Victoria Island, Lagos, and was part of the British Council’s UK-Nigeria 2015/2016 Art Season.
Iwa L’ewa choreographed by Qudus Onikeku (Q-Dance Centre) will be on stage at Freedom Park, Lagos on Friday, 13 November, 2015.
For an invitation, RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org and 08120235336.