Specially Me: A Dance Concert Like No Other
In this day and age, it has become so easy to get caught up with our personal matters that we forget about the bigger picture. Sometimes, we inflate our petty personal problems and our worlds end up revolving around them. Meanwhile, there are those who could have much more difficult lives, but choose to make the most out of them and find opportunities to grow and become better.
When in Manila, we sometimes get the chance to be reminded of and inspired by people out there who overcome daily hardships and manage to stay strong above it all. This is the case with our special brothers and sisters from the Heart at Play Foundation. They used dance as their means, and after weeks of practice and preparation, and with the help of the numerous volunteers of the foundation, they showed everyone their talents through a very heartwarming benefit concert.
Established three years ago by Teacher Ana Rivera, The Heart at Play Foundation (THP) is a non-profit organization that teaches Dance Movement Therapy to those with autism and other developmental disorders. For the first time ever, they put together a dance concert, ‘Specially Me: Merging Two Worlds Through Dance’, held at Henry Lee Irwin Theater in Ateneo de Manila, last June 22, 2014.
Specially Me: A Dance Concert Like No Other
MERGING TWO WORLDS
The musical-themed concert featured the special children performing well-known tunes from Broadway, such as Hairspray and Tarzan. Dance groups, D’Tour, Ateneo IndAK, Legit Status and Fresh Flow performed with them and really collaborated with them, prompting the children and even assisting them in performing the movements. These dance groups invested their time to practice with the children and get to know them, thus making their performances even more dynamic and connected.
Many of the special children needed helping hands from others to execute their dance steps on stage and this proved how truly supportive people are of our special brothers and sisters. It was so moving to not only witness these children perform their hearts out regardless of their disability, but also the love and acceptance of the people around them (the audience included!). Other guest performers of the concert included dance groups: the Company of Ateneo Dancers, the UP Streetdance Club, LMN, as well as a song number by some of the volunteers of THP.
ROPE OF HOPE
More than just a showcase of the talent and heart of these special children, the concert also educated the audience on what the foundation and the real-life experiences of some of the families are all about. In-between dances, there were invited speakers that helped us understand the situation of the families of these special children better. Some of the mothers shared their personal stories on overcoming struggles together with THP. And it really became impossible not to admire the patience and love of the families of these special children. Patricia Rivera, daughter of Teacher Ana and co-founder of THP, explained the secret behind the dance therapy that makes THP so special: the ‘Rope of Hope’.
As a tool to teach the special girls and boys movements and coordination, the children hold the rope with their parents, helpers and volunteers, making it easier for them to follow and learn. Other than just being useful for teaching the children, this became a symbol of the inevitable connection between the children and these important people in their lives.
Beyond the bright and fun music, the colorful costumes, the elaborate props and sets, and the simple yet brilliant choreography, the beauty and brilliance of the concert really came from the children. Audience members couldn’t hold their tears watching the performances, thinking that these people overcome struggle every single day of their lives and yet continue to dance, not just because it helps them overcome physical or mental difficulties, but because that is really what they love to do. The enthusiasm, support, understanding and acceptance filled the entire theater during the concert. Their performances made us realize that these boys and girls are special, not because of any disability, but because of their perseverance, strength, passion and heart.
The Heart at Play Foundation
Official Website: https://www.theheartatplayfoundation.org/
All photos taken from The Heart at Play Facebook page
Photographers: Deondre Ng and Cesca Wong
Other past SPED events: