AN ANCIENT Indian dance is set to inspire young people with disabilities after a charity won nearly £50,000 in lottery funding.
Haqooq Aspire for More is set to teach Reminiscing Rajasthani Dance to people aged 11 to 25 during class-time and after school in Leeds.
The charity is set to bring Bollywood-style dancing to Specialist Inclusive Learning Centres like the John Jamieson School in Oakwood after netting a £49,500 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Shaheen Akhtar, secretary of the charity said the dance style had been chosen because it helps to teach a plethora of performing skills and helps boosts confidence.
She said: “It’s a participatory dance and also narrative driven. Rajasthani dances have a community feel about them, like the difficulty of getting water into the village. There was a whole dance form of how everyone got together and got the water in.
“It’s got this whole team work built in, which is very useful to young people with disabilities. It’s also very creative and inspirational. It’s working with other people and it can also be individual. It has all these aspects to it which are really useful.
“It’s so beautiful and light. The colours are so deep and the costumes are really extravagant and elaborate. They have beautiful props, which form part of the dance.
“It’s just something that’s so beautiful and useful that we thought it would benefit people with disadvantages and difficulty with engagement.
She said the ancient dance had been almost been lost in the “recesses” and it was quite new to the UK.
The charity got the inspiration for Reminiscing Rajasthani Dance after a performance at Leeds Carriageworks last year. Students from John Jamieson put on an beautiful poetry-inspired Indian dance as part of a group performance.
Shaheen said the youngsters with disabilities performed it in front of a live audience. They were overjoyed by the experience and wanted to do more.
Now they have got their wish. Jamie Darby, the learning manager at John Jamieson, said their students couldn’t wait to try dance styles like the Darba.
The teacher added: “This a great opportunity for them to learn about the heritage of Rajasthani dance, develop new skills, confidence and give them a forum to showcase their new talents. Previous, Haqooq Aspire for More, projects have been hugely beneficial for our students, so we are very excited”.
Haqooq secretary Shaheen said the ultimate aim was to put on another live performance for as many people as possible.
She added: “We are thrilled to have received this support thanks to National Lottery players. Exploring Rajasthani dance will certainly help young people with new skills, but it will also ignite new passions.
“This money is really going to help us to push boundaries, push the limitations on what we think people with disabilities or severe disadvantages can achieve. It’s a small investment, if you think about how much progress and development can be made.”
“There is a huge amount independence if you have got people performing in front of an audience.”
She said to develop that confidence into people with challenges and disadvantages was “such a huge progression. It’s massive. It’s like a mountain”.
Haqooq Aspire For More aims to empower young people with special needs and mental health difficulties.
It was set up nine years by a group of volunteers and later became a charity.
A spokeswoman said: “We use innovative approaches and creative ways of working to engage people that were considered unreachable or excluded from mainstream provision due to the level of their needs.
“We have been able to provide a warm, caring environment for people with disabilities and multiple disadvantage/challenges, locally, within their own communities to improve confidence and self-esteem, independence and basic skills.
“Haqooq has been able to progress its users to further or higher education as well as employment and volunteering. We have taken into consideration what our users wanted and provided activities that they would find beneficial and supportive.”
Haqooq has worked with a number of Special Inclusive Learning Centres (SLIC) in Leeds, particularly the John Jamieson School in Oakwood.
Anther projects it has done in Leeds was a transient art project in Harehills.
Haqooq has won awards for its work. Some of the people it has helped have gone on to mainstream art colleges after boosting their skills with Haqooq.
For more information see haqooq.btck.co.uk or contact Info@haqooq.org.