Twenty-two students with disabilities, dressed in traditional Aboriginal attire, danced to near perfection during the opening dance of a public performance yesterday, winning applause from hundreds of stunned watchers.
“Angels’ Love, Dreams Set Sail” — a series of dance and musical performances by more than 100 people with disabilities — was held ahead of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which is on Saturday, at the Evergreen International Convention Center in Taipei.
The event was organized by the Down’s Syndrome Foundation of the Republic of China, which promotes the welfare and rights of people affected by the condition.
About one in every 800 babies born in Taiwan has Down’s syndrome, the foundation said, which accounts for about one new family every day.
Foundation chairperson Lin Cheng-shia (林正俠) said organizers of the event hoped the public would understand the rights of people with disabilities, adding that parents should not give up on children with disabilities.
With proper education and practice, people with such disabilities can still perform beautifully on stage, Lin said.
Foundation executive director Lin Mei-chih (林美智) said the event was the second annual celebration event of International Day of Persons with Disabilities hosted by the foundation, with more than 400 participants attending this year.
This year’s event has grown to include participants from other groups fighting for the rights of people with disabilities and is not only limited to people with Down’s syndrome, Lin said.
The opening dance was presented by junior-high school students with disabilities from Kuang Jen Catholic High School in Banciao District (板橋), New Taipei City (新北市).
Lai Wei-chun (賴韋君), a dance teacher from the school, said it was difficult for the students to remember all the movements, beats and formations and that it took a lot of time for them to click with each other.
The students all worked very hard and did not complain during practice, Lai said.
The hardest part of the Aboriginal dance was during a session where students moved bamboo rods to the beat, while other students danced between the bamboo rods, Lai said, adding that students often stepped on the sticks or had their legs caught in them in practice, but they overcame the problem after more than half a year of hard practice.
Another dance by seven students with Down’s syndrome wearing golden Indian-style costumes was also presented by students of Kuang Jen.
Lai said it was not easy for the students to cooperate with each other because they sometimes paid more attention to themselves than the whole group, but the students also worked hard and brought on a wonderful show.
Another highlight of the performances was when children with Down’s syndrome spiritedly danced with the emcee, comedian and singer Lotus Wang (王彩樺), to her techno hit Bo Peep Bo Peep (有唱有保庇) on stage, as dozens of people from the audience stood up on their seats and joined the dance with its easy-to-remember dance moves.