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Tandav, Bengaluru's annual dance festival brings a new meaning to inclusion


Dance is a way of expressing yourself, indulging in the beauty of your body movements and experiencing bliss. That is just what Tandav, an inclusive dance festival in Bengaluru aims at. They bring together people with and without disabilities to perform together.

This year, the event is happening at Cubbon Park on 16 December. The organizers, co-ordinators, volunteers and participants are busy preparing for the big day and they just cannot hide their excitement!

‘Tandav’ is a venture of Smileys India, an NGO based out of Bengaluru. This NGO supports disabled people in numerous ways. It was founded by two brothers Vishnu Soman and Vishal Soman. They have been collaborating with Enable India.

Blind and deaf people, wheelchair users and children who are diagnosed with HIV are all part of this inclusive dance festival. For the past six months, the group has been busy holding flash mobs and also practicing for their big day. You just cannot miss the uniqueness and charm that fills the air during the sessions. So for instance, when the song is played, all deaf people come together for one particular step. All blind people are given another step by the choreographers. It is just wonderful to see how they all shake a leg with giggles and laughter!

We started ‘Tandav’ in the year 2014. Last year, we performed in Delhi and Kochi as well. We have practice sessions every weekend which are attended by people with different kinds of disabilities. We want everyone to know that people with disabilities are exceptionally talented and skilled. If given the right guidance, they can come out in flying colours. It is high time we break stereotypes about things like gender and disabilities- Vishnu Soman, Co-founder, Smileys India.

Currently, there are over 170 people with and without disabilities who are part of ‘Tandav’. So every year, ‘Tandav’ promotes some cause. This year, it is going to be women empowerment. Hence, they have named the event Lasya Tandav, a term which is often connected to feminine beauty!

“We are going to try out two different things this year. Mainly, we are focussing on friends and families to come and become part of this venture. We are sending out a message that we have become a community and a family together. We want families of our participants and volunteers to join hands with us. Secondly, we are going to have a separate stage to promote traditional art forms like Kathak, Mohiniyattam, Kathakali and so on. Basically, our initiatives are based on breaking stereotypes”, says Vishnu.

Experts point out that getting up to dance breaks all your egos. It brings people together! So people in Bengaluru, if you have not yet checked out ‘Tandav’, mark your calender's for 16 December and make sure you hop in to shake a leg!

Shailesh P Kulal is person with low vision who has been an active part of ‘Tandav’.

“I joined hands with ‘Tandav’ when I was a part of Enable India. I always loved dancing but never knew how to go about doing it. In fact, nobody taught it to me the way I wanted to. After being a part of ‘Tandav’, I saw how wheelchair users and people with other disabilities danced to their hearts fill. It boosted my confidence. I’am glad that I participated in this venture”, says Shailesh.

For more details on the event, you can contact organizers at 7602169292.

ALSO READ: A walk in the park: Building a community that cares



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