27 Jan No Assumptions, Please!
Introducing ‘Dance with me’
I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year. I hope we have a great 2022 ahead. Welcome back to ‘No Assumptions Please’.
Today I’ll like to tell you about the start of my new project called ‘Dance with me’ that I’m doing for World Down Syndrome Day 2022. WDSD is on 21st March because of the extra copy of the 21st chromosome that there is in Down’s Syndrome (so 21st March, like 21.03). Let me tell you about the project.
It all started as an inspiration I had, when I went to a panel discussion for the launch of Ale’s Project. I loved their music video so much that inspired me to do something like that (but much smaller of course). The following day at home I sat down with a piece of paper in front of me, a pen in hand, with my headphones and my music playing, and I wrote from the heart. I called the monologue I wrote ‘Dance with me’. When it comes to writing from the heart, I find it easier to listen to music. It helps me to get in touch with myself and my feelings and so music was my main vehicle when I was writing this.
After I put it on paper the first people that I showed it to were my parents and together we brainstormed how the project was going to be. The rough sketch in my mind was to do a voice recording of me reading it and asking a friend to help me with some background music to accompany my voice. My idea was to use the instrument that we used in Automaniacs, which is called a hand drum. That was the mixed-ability performance that some of us from Opening Doors did for the ZiguZajg Festival last November (I hope you came to watch us because it was really fun!). I would then do a dance to the recording and do a video to be shared on social media.
Over the Christmas break I put the plan into action where I typed up what I had written and kept going over it till it sounded right. Then I asked one of the Automaniacs cast, my friend Benji, who also works with the music group at Opening Doors, to see whether he would like to collaborate with me. He instantly took it on, so I did a trial recording and sent it to him to see how it sounds like. Before I did the actual recording I worked on making my speech clear with my speech therapist Christina via WhatsAp. Then we met up for the recording and Benji brought the recording materials that were needed which were a computer, a microphone and the hand drum.
So on the 9th of January we officially started the project and it was exactly everything that I visioned it to sound like. It was wonderful. Like magic. I instantly went back to how it originally was when it was just the monologue and me writing it. But this time it was live. I could really feel the difference this time round. It was more emotional.
It was more emotional because I was no longer alone in a room. I had another person with me. It was real. The other reason was also the music coming from the Hand instrument which impacted me and managed to get to my heart. Even though I didn’t say it, every time I read it, I was always on the fine line of letting those tears come streaming out. All the times that I had to read it, I had to go through listening to the recordings and I always had to confront those words, dealing with them, and facing all the extra weight that was a part of it.
This week I received the final recording from Benji. Listening to it just made me see the rest of the project take place right in front of my eyes. It sounded perfect! It awakened so many emotions within me, especially knowing that soon it will be out there in the world, shared with everyone, and it also resonated with me that all my friends and family would see it. Something that came from my heart, something which is personal. Mine.
So now all I have to do is to work on the dance. My friend Julienne, who was also part of the cast of Automaniacs and works with the Opening Doors Dance group will be collaborating with me for this part. She suggested that we get together to talk about it and prepare a storyboard for the video. Then we will film me dancing to the recording. The end result will be a short video which will be launched on YouTube and Facebook in time for this year’s World Down’s Syndrome Day.
I’m really excited to be working on this project. I’m looking forward for the new experiences and the new memories that are there to come, and most importantly to not only learn more about myself as a person but also what I value the most in life.
The theme for this year’s World Down Syndrome Day from Down Syndrome International is ‘Inclusion Means….’. I think my project matches this theme very well because it’s about how
“I was not made to be categorised, boxed, misunderstood, excluded or to have a label stamped on, because I was made to live”.
Welcome to the world, ‘Dance with me’!
Benji (with the hand drum) and I, after the recording.