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True Colours Festival x Arts In Your Neighbourhood: Dancers Celebrate Unique Abilities in the Heartlands

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As part of the National Arts Council’s Art In Your Neighborhood initiative, international dance groups ILL-Abilities from Canada and Epic Arts from Cambodia made their way down to Bedok Town Square and Admiralty Plaza this weekend to perform to members of the public.

Both groups will be performing as part of the inaugural True Colours Festival happening at the Singapore Sports Hub the next weekend, an international festival celebrating disabled artists whose abilities in various art forms can rival even able bodied ones. That’s a fact that was made incredibly clear with both dance groups’ performances, as they displayed a keen sense of both dexterity and grace in their choreographies and movements.

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Says Luca Patuelli, founder of ILL-Abilities: “We’re an international B-boy crew with members hailing from Brazil, Chile and even South Korea. The crew shares a common mantra of ‘No Excuses, No Limits’, and we’ve never allowed our disabilities to stop us from pursuing our dreams and aim to become the best dancers in the world.”

Created over ten years ago, each member of ILL-abilities are highly competent dancers in their own right, many of whom have participated in international competitions on their own and with other dance crews and have become well known figures in the B-boy scene worldwide. Says Luca: “In our show, we engage with the audience on both a verbal and physical level, and it’s become a kind of motivation entertainment. With different ways of interacting and moving, we like to keep experimenting and try new moves each time.”

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During the performance itself, energy levels are high, and Luca easily gets the crowd clapping along with his infectious enthusiasm and cheering them on, even finding some willing volunteers to be part of the performance. Luca concludes: “The main message we want to put out is for audiences to embrace who they are and understand that life is all about challenging yourself on a daily basis, not to compete with the person beside you, but to do things your own way and become the best version of yourself you can be.”

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Meanwhile, from a country a little closer to home, Cambodia’s Epic Arts presented a performance entitled Samanthapheab, literally translating to ‘Ability’. An art-based NGO based in a province three hours from Phnom Penh, the group was initially formed to raise awareness of disabilities in Cambodia, providing special education to youths with disabilities such as autism. But over the years, the organisation has since developed their own drama and dance wing, and become the first inclusive contemporary performance company in the country, providing two year courses to interested participants and showing the world that people are able to push past their disabilities to be more able than ever.

In Samanthapheab, dancers move across the stage to an epic soundtrack, seemingly forsaken before suddenly rising to the occasion and displaying almost superhuman like skills in balancing on wheelchairs, doing flips and transcending their god-given disabilities. It makes perfect sense, given that many in Cambodia still treat disabilities as a huge limitation, and so much outreach and education is still required to change peoples’ mindsets and perceptions.

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Proving themselves as worthy artists in their own right, independent of their disabilities, one can only expect a show that will touch hearts and leave audiences wowed at the True Colours Concert this coming weekend, where not only will ILL-Abilities and Epic Arts be present, but over 20 more regional and international artistes flying down to show Singapore and the world exactly what they’re capable of.

True Colours Festival 2018 takes place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium from 22nd – 25th March, while the concert itself takes place from 23rd – 25th March. Tickets available from SportshubTix. For more information, visit their website here

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