Master’s student’s inspiring choreography encourages people with disability to dance

Teni Matian’s award-winning inclusive dance work Ne Me Quitte Pas has given visibility to people with disabilities in Armenia.

Posted: 29 May 2015

image for news story Master’s student’s inspiring choreography encourages people with disability to dance
Teni Matian
In March, Ne Me Quitte Pas won Armenia’s prestigious National Theatre Prize award ‘Artavazd’, given for an outstanding achievement in the performing arts. Directed by Vahan Badalyan, Artistic Director of Yerevan’s Small Theatre, and choreographed by Matian, Ne Me Quitte Pas premiered in October 2014 at High Fest, Armenia’s largest international performing arts festival.

The cast of 10 included professional dancers, one of whom had a disability, professional actors, and people with disabilities who had not performed before. During the work, whose title means ‘do not leave me’, the performers shared their own thoughts about love and fears of losing people that are precious to them.

Matian, who is studying Dance Anthrolopogy, said:
“I am thrilled that the first inclusive dance performance in Armenia was recognised with this prestigious award. My journey started when I was invited by the British Council in Armenia to join the ‘Unlimited Project’, aimed at establishing the first inclusive dance company in Armenia, in partnership with the acclaimed British inclusive company Candoco. It was so rewarding to see participants join the workshops, leaving behind feelings of shame and timidity, and exploring their full potential. This has given me an understanding how to be sensitive to physically or mentally challenged individuals. I want to provide more opportunities for people with disabilities in Armenia to get involved in dance.”

Matian’s research project at Roehampton is focused on the shift of attitudes about dance in Armenia since independence, such as performers all having to look the same and perform to the same level. She said: “Since people with disabilities are not yet accepted as dancers, there is a lack of opportunities for them to experience this art form. I want to be a change-maker in giving them more access to dance and changing negative perceptions about them, both their own and society’s. My course at Roehampton is helping me to achieve this by giving me a new perspective on dance anthropology and adding another layer to my career.”

Find out more about Matian's journey to give people with disabilities access to dance.

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