Chinese New Year has brought novel kind of excitement this year as people with intellectual disabilities are performing lion dance. This dance troupe, comprising of people with special needs, is earning applause in Singapore.
The nine-member team of this dance troupe reside in 'THK Home for the Disabled'. True to its name, THK Bravehearts nicely imitate the movement of the lion leaping and prancing playfully amidst beating of drums and sounds of clashing cymbals.
The management of the 'THK Home for the Disabled' made arrangements for their professional training for lion dancing with the help of veteran dancers from Nam Sieng Dragon and Lion Dance Activity Centre.
The trainers were initially concerned about how people with special needs will pick up the dance, and how will they communicate with the trainers. However, their concern was eased as they realised that these people with special needs are "not much different" from other lion dancers they train.
Calvin Loke, one of the trainers said, "The key difference is while it would normally take most people one day to master the steps, these residents need five or six days. And they need simpler instructions."
The members of the THK Bravehearts troupe are much in demand as they also perform at corporate events. Keppel Corporation and Singapore Power are among its clients this festive season.
They also perform at various THK internal events and external events, such as Purple Parade. Recently, BraveHearts dazzled in a shimmering LED-light costume and clinched second prize in THK's internal talent completion last October.
There is inherent need of Singaporean society to promote the activities of people with special needs so that they can become more inclusive. Even the latest Enabling Masterplan has talked about getting people with disabilities involved in sport, culture and social activities so they can lead active lifestyles and promote inclusion in the community.