The Lions Club of Golders Green recently put on a dance show to celebrate Diwali. I attended with three main aims:

  1. Celebrate Diwali with my family
  2. Learn about Lions Clubs
  3. Enjoy the dance show

I did all three, but one left a massive impression on me:  the dance show by Sunadha.

Sunadha is a group of enthusiastic dancers with either visual, hearing or speech impairments. They can perform Indian Classical, Folk, and Contemporary dances.

After their first dance we were told that the group, consisting of seven dancers, had four blind and three deaf members.

I couldn’t believe it! How can people who can’t hear or see dance so well together?

They all performed the dance moves beautifully, but what I found incredible was how they looked and felt like a group – collaborative, supportive, and in tune with each other.

How Can People Who Cannot See or Hear Dance So Well Together?

Photo: Facebook

The group is part of the Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled, a charity based in Bangalore, India, empowering visually impaired, disabled and underprivileged people through developmental initiatives focusing on educational, social, economic, cultural and technological aspects.

So, How Can People Who Cannot See or Hear Dance So Well Together?

The Samarthanam Trust use the touch-feel method to teach their students the dances. With the touch-feel method an instructor guides a visually impaired dancer through their hands and voice. Holding hands, they demonstrate the different postures in alignment with the rhythm. For dancers with hearing and speech impairments the instructor again holds their hand to guide them, and helps them feel the sound and the meaning of the song.

It’s not just the touch-feel method that helps people who cannot see or hear to dance. A lot of patience, coordination, and team work is required.

Kusum Tamang, the Overseas Relations Manager at The Samarthanam Trust says:

“It takes twice the effort and time to train them in the dances but once they understand, they stick to the discipline and meticulously remember the moves.”

How Can People Who Cannot See or Hear Dance So Well Together?

Photo: Facebook

The Samarthanam Trust was started in 1997 by two visually impaired men who wanted to create a better society for visually impaired young people. The charity provides accommodation, education, vocational training and placements to help over 1,000 disabled people try and “keep pace with society”.

The seven dancers, Lingaraj, Suma BD, Usha, Jaya, Manasa, Sridevi, and Suma, are aged between 19 – 29 years. As well as dancing in the Sunadha group, Lingaraj also works for the Samarthanam Trust where he teaches dance and does some clerical work.

The group are currently touring across the UK – please visit the Samarthanam Trust Facebook page for more details.

The video below is of the group performing back in 2010.

Key to the group members’ success is patience, coordination, team work, commitment, and dedication. Watching the Sunadha dance group made me think of a TED talk by Angela Lee Duckworth, a teacher who realised that it wasn’t IQ that was separating the successful students to the ones who struggled. It was grit.

In this interesting TED talk Angela defines grit as:

“passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality.”

“Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” –  click to tweet this! 

The 500+ audience at the event organised by the Lions Club of Golders Green were blown away by the dances by Lingaraj, Suma BD, Usha, Jaya, Manasa, Sridevi, and Suma. What we all witnessed was the result of their hard work, dedication, and commitment. Or, as Angela put it, their grit.

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About Author

Nisha Kotecha is the Founder of Good News Shared. Having worked and volunteered for charities in the UK for over 10 years, Nisha is on a mission to highlight how amazing charities are.

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