IM this article to a friend!

April 13, 2006

Teaching the deaf and mute to dance!

From: Afternoon Dispatch & Courier - Bombay,India - Apr 13, 2006


On a special mission to Nepal, Sandip Soparrkar taught Latin American to them and was amazed by the results

For Sandip Soparrkar, dance instructor and choreographer to the stars, his recent assignment in Nepal has been his most memorable. It was a three-week mission where he taught Latin American dancing to deaf and mute boys and girls. Sarah Giri, wife of the former prime minister of Nepal who runs an institution for these special children, invited him to teach them this form of dance for their annual programme to be held in May.

Of course, Soparrkar did not know what to expect, he had never taught dance to the deaf and mute, but at the end of his three-week stint he terms his experience as ‘unbelievable.’

“The children were between the ages of 15 and 25 years and strangely none of them have ever danced in their lives. And for the first time in my life I danced to silence, there was no music, not even for Mrs. Giri and me.

The students only danced to numbers. It was just amazing to watch them perform,” he said.

Another interesting aspect about the deaf and mute that Sandip learnt was that they have no sense of balance, so for some steps which required a lot of twists and turns, it was a bit difficult. But by the end of their three-week training, they effortlessly mastered every move taught to them.

Just as in any other rehearsal, these students too performed for eight hours at a stretch, but the difference was that there was no talking or gossiping or breaks or idle chatter. “I realised that dancing to silence really helps you appreciate the dance form better. I think we waste a lot of time chatting endlessly about things that really don’t matter but here I realized that once the rehearsals began, they concentrated on their dance and nothing could distract them. Strange,
how we never thought of it that way,” continued Soparrkar.

To help understand these students better, Soparrkar took a few lessons in sign language but in Nepal he realized that there was a slight difference in the language he learnt and the language they communicated in. “Still, I tried and somehow I managed to explain to them what I needed. They could not lip read, so there was no point in me talking either.”

“The most important aspect of this assignment was making a difference to their lives, he continued. They may not have all their senses but I think by the end of my stay they achieved much more that they or I could imagine. And in that sense, I think I achieved what I set out to achieve,” he said. The programme is scheduled to be held in mid-May and sometime early next month Sandip returns to Nepal to check on their progress. “Mrs. Giri wants to show the people of Nepal that despite their drawback, these students are still capable of doing so much more. And I think it is going to be one fabulous show,” he added.

© 2006, Cybernoon All rights reserved.