‘We Are One’ promotes inclusion through art
An inclusive dance troupe based out of New Delhi, ‘We are One’ is making news for its national and international shows. Recently, the group performed in Singapore at an event where over 20 other countries participated and grabbed first place. Impressed by their performance, the President of Singapore, Halimah Yacob, invited them for dinner.
Founded in 2016 by Husnain, who is a wheelchair user, We are One became the first dance troupe in India to perform the salsa on wheelchairs last year.
Our main focus is to promote equality and dignity for people without education and those who are unable to come out of their homes for numerous reasons. We aim to provide them a platform where they can experiment with their dance skills and talents. I have come across many NGOs that promise employment opportunities to disabled people. But they have their own profit motives since they are often funded by government or private parties. At We are One, we do not have much support from outside people. Basically, we are on our own struggling to make ends meet-Husnain, Director-Founder, We are One
Husnain points out that their biggest strength and motivation to move forward is the abundant love and appreciation that they receive from their audience. Undoubtedly, their performances are much loved. They have been invited to perform at over 300 venues in the last two years alone, which says a lot.
Husnain and his team hope to spread wings to other parts of India as well. The team focuses on classical dance, mainly Bharatanatyam and Kathak. All their performances aim at some social cause and to bring out disabled people into the limelight.
“Any society will progress only when people with and without disabilities join hand in hand. That is the reason we started the dance troupe. I was hearing impaired from birth. But my family was always supportive and stood by me through thick and thin. I started learning Bharatanatyam since school. After two years of pursing it, I did my first performance in 2009. It was a turning point in my life because I got a lot of appreciation for my performance. Ever since then, I have taken up dance professionally. It is great to be part of We are one”, says Alka Sah, Assistant Director, We are One.
Among the star performers is Gulshan Kumar, who is also a choreographer. Kumar is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most number of turns in a minute on a wheelchair. He took 63 turns in a minute.
“We are One can find the ability in a person with a disability. Even though my name was registered in the Guinness Book of World Records, I never knew that I could do something for my country. That is when I connected with We are One. Now, I feel like an achiever. Wheelchair is a part of our body. I feel comfortable doing things on a wheelchair. It is also a healing therapy to me and many others with disabilities”, says Kumar.
An approach that truly defies the stereotypes about disability.