Shiamak Davar has been conducting workshops for physically and mentally challenged children for the last 21 years. Impressed by the endeavour, American instructors Justin Kahan and Christina Markham from The Paul Taylor Dance Company offered help for a week-long dance workshop in the city to train students at the Victory Art Foundation (VAF), established by the dance guru a couple of years ago.
“I was working on some dance concepts with this US-based dance troupe when they heard of our work with the differently-abled kids. They volunteered to train them for a week and I was delighted with that,” beams the choreographer who doesn’t charge a rupee from any of the VAF students regardless of their financial status. However, he makes sure those who approach the foundation are genuinely needy. “My team checks their papers. If they have come through an NGO, they pre-check police clearances before enrolling with us,” adds Shiamak.
According to the ace dancer-singer, dance gives the VAF students happiness. He believes that their only outlet for emotions is music: “They love dancing. I have seen their confidence and self-esteem build up when they perform. They feel they are worth something.”
For several years now, Shiamak, who donates a part of his annual income to the foundation for wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs and crutches, has been including an act from the VAF kids for each of his stage performances. He says, “They are paid for it. They use the money for their education or save it. Dancing for an audience reinstates their belief that there is nothing wrong with them.”