Friday, May 17, 2013

ILL-Abilities: Breaking the Conventions of Dance

“No Excuses, No Limits”. That is the motto of international b-boy crew, ILL-Abilities, a group comprised of five dancers who have different physical disabilities. As can be seen from the videos below, this crew does not let physical limitation inhibit their expression or dancing capabilities.

At first, the name ILL-Abilities might sound derogatory, but don't let their moniker deceive you; according to their Facebook page, “the concept of an ILL-Ability is to take the (Dis) [slang for “disrespect”]* out of disability and replace it with 'ILL'. In today's slang, bad means good and ILL means: unique, amazing, and incredible. So in other words Unique, Amazing, and Incredible Abilities.”

I would say that unique, amazing, and incredible are pretty accurate descriptions. B-boying, or breaking, is an extremely physical style of street dance often, but not exclusively, danced to hip hop music. In spite of its strenuous physical nature, it turns out breaking is not exclusive to able-bodiedness, either.

ILL-Abilities is comprised of founder Luca “Lazylegs” Patuelli (Candada), Jacob “Kujo” Lyons (U.S), Redouan “Redo” Ait Chitt (Netherlands), Sergio “Checho” Miranda (Chile), and Tommy “Guns” Ly (U.S). Each member has a different ILL-Ability, from hearing loss to amputation to muscle and bone growth disorders, that simultaneously forces and allows him to take b-boying in a new, specialized direction.

The crew gets together to do motivational entertainment shows and performances, and during the first week of May, they were at the Breakin' Convention in London, and international festival of hip hop dance theater. There, the group help a breaking workshop for people of all abilities, showing them how to adapt their bodies to the moves. Watch a bit of that in the video below (from about 1:10-2:17).

Street dance is a fascinating and beautiful form of expression and one of my favorite forms of visual art, so I find it extremely inspiring that there is a group pushing the boundaries of this art form and of dance in general, and that they are spreading motivation, awareness, and acceptance worldwide. And, of course, it's fun to watch!

I know that first video is somewhat long, but I strongly encourage you to watch it (and others) and share your thoughts. What do you think of ILL-Abilities as a crew and/or a concept?

*bracketed note is my own, not ILL-Abilities'

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