Dancing Differently

A man in his 40s wearing yellow headgear as a signature of his appearance. He has completed dance therapy foundation course at Queen Margaret University and degree in Dance and Professional Practice at Coventry University in UK. Since the last 30 years after completing Dance diploma at Royal Nepal Academy in Nepal in 1982, he has been active as a as a performer, teacher and choreographer of different types of dance. He likes to call himself facilitator of therapeutic dance rather than the therapist. He stays in Edinburgh, Scotland. Mr. Charan Pradhan from Nepal.

2 weeks ago, I had a chance to meet him at a venue where I was attending the workshop on ‘Theory of Change’ related to mental health of PRIME Project being conducted by TPO Nepal. He was working there with foreigners with cerebral palsy using Interactive Creative Dance Movement. One of former TPO Nepal colleagues, Ms. Janane Magar introduced me with him who had attended his Dance movement workshop few years ago.

We had a very brief conversation and exchanged contacts. I got curious of his work so, I contacted him later and he invited me to a workshop where children with physical, intellectual and learning difficulties at HDCS Asha Bal Bikas Sewa (ABBS) would be performing. Started as a single centre in Dhobighat in 1993, attended by three children, ABBS has grown to be three centers which serve approximately 95 children with 19 dedicated staff and volunteers. There are two centers that are based in Kathmandu in Bahisepati and Jorpati, and one in Chitwan. Ms. Tulsa Sharma is the coordinator of ABBS.

He specializes in the therapeutic use of dance. It was while studying that he was introduced to the field of disability dance through Joan Illingworth and Ceceila McFarlane. He works with children and adults who have a wide range of needs including complex additional support needs, mental health support and behavioural difficulties. He has have found that working through dance with people who have additional support needs leads to a great number of benefits. These include:

-Increased body awareness

-Feeling more centered/grounded

-Increased self confidence

-Increased self esteem

-Being able to relax and feel good about themselves

-Enhanced creativity and use of imagination

-Opening up and releasing emotions

-Building trust in self and others

-Increased understanding of movement

-A strengthened link between body and mind

-Improved connection with others

-Increased awareness and respect of others physically and emotionally during contact

 Last week on 05 May, I attended that workshop and observed how Interactive Creative Dance Movement works therapeutically. The children at ABBS gave very excellent dance performances and it was very inspiring. I had an opportunity to see how it worked and how children were dancing with delight.

Kutumba was also invited for special performance for the children. It was wonderful to see the children dance joyfully in Kutumba’s music as spontaneously as they listened.

Children dancing joyfully, Charan Pradhan on right side
Kutumba performing

After the workshop, we spent few hours talking and discussing ideas. I got to know that he has been visiting Nepal occasionally (whenever time and finance permits) for family and professional reasons. Whenever he makes a visit to Nepal, he tries to utilize as much time as possible trying to help professionally (working voluntarily) while spending time with his family as well. He emphasized upon “mutual respect” for everybody he met or worked with. His attitude was reflected in his behavior and work. It was good to see a single person making such efforts without the large sum of funding, it was clear that an intention is more important than the resources. There he was, a man committed to a cause to help the children with difficulties. This time, besides HDCS, he also worked with children from CWIN and SOS Bal gram Jorpati. However, he expressed disappointment at staff’s behavior when he realized that the resources he had contributed to the children from his earning had been taken away by staffs working there. Overall, he was happy and contented with what he was doing. Through this post, I would like to heartily appreciate and acknowledge his efforts which I hope might lead to ‘ripple effect’ in Nepal.

One striking statement he made, I still remember clearly.  He asked me, “Sujen, do you know what is the greatest form of disability among people?” I replied, “Let me hear it from yourself. ” “Ego is the greatest disability among human beings ,” he said. I could not agree more to it. Indeed, ego does no good to us.  It can really disable our heart and mind.

with Tulsa Sharma, ABBS, Charan Pradhan, and CWIN representative (from left)

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