Kundai Marunya Arts Correspondent
Having conquered his disability through dance, effectively competing with able bodied colleagues, and at many time beating them, local b-boy Blessing Fire aka Christyles is in United Kingdom representing Africa at a festival that promotes the disabled in arts.
Born with deformed legs, Christyles is part of an international conference and symposium discussing how to elevate disabled people, giving them an equal chance at success in the arts sector.
Speaking from London, the dancer said he was invited by British Council to Southbank Centre’s Unlimited Festival.
“I was invited by the British Council to be part of the delegation of key arts professionals that will be attending Southbank Centre’s Unlimited Festival starting today to run until September 9.
“The symposium is a discussion event they are hosting leading into Southbank Centres Unlimited Festival and is aimed at professionals in the culture sector and focuses on disabled-led arts in the 21st Century at the Unicorn Theatre, London,” he said.
While in London, Christyles will have a chance to interact with many disabled people in art and organisations that represent disabled people in art.
“Unlimited provides a unique opportunity for over 100 international presenters and programmers to come together to attend networking events with artist and peers, and work as part of the festival.
“The symposium will discuss how disabled artists can change the mainstream arts sector, disability intersectional identities and the arts, why is it taking so long for the disabled to have an equal footing in art and how to speed up change, and also how new technology can enable or create more barriers for the disabled in arts,” he said.
Christyles a formidable dancer, who is now director of Jibilika Dance Company, an organisation that uses dance to promote positive message and impact young people positively ‘found his feet’ through dance.
He started using a wheelchair in his early years, with little hope of ever walking. His fighting spirit and determination to defy the odds started surfacing when he was only four and he started challenging himself to walk.
Christyles’ first contact with dance was through imitating his brother, a gymnast.
After showing amazing use of his hands and an extraordinary sense of balance, his brother encouraged him to try beat boy (b-boy) breakdance, a hip hop and funk music dance style that requires a lot of body movement and energy.
This strengthened him physically and at 19 years he did away with his wheelchair.