Mumbai, Oct 5: At several suburban vratri venues in Mumbai, revellers suddenly stop in their tracks to view and admire a young man and a woman as they join the ongoing 10-day dance festivities — on wheelchairs. The duo occupies centre-stage at venues teeming with several thousands of dancers, and seated in their wheelchairs, they swing to the lilting tunes and musical beats — but with hand movements (garba) and later with dandiyas (sticks). There is also a deaf girl who can barely hear the cacophony around her, but she quietly “follows” the dance-steps of the individual before her and virtually melts into the crowds. The trio belong to ‘Rasleela - Master the Art of Garba’ dance troupe run by hotelier-cum-choreographer Hardik Mehta in the Kandivali suburb, with three other branches.
The students are: Siddhi Shah, 30, working as a senior executive in a private company, Dhaval Shah, 26, working as a realtor — both wheelchair-bound — and hearing-disabled Jesal Shah, 30, an interior designer. All of them live in the suburbs. The trio learnt of Rasleela through its social media networks and got in touch with Mehta who terms it “as the most unexpected request” for learning vratri dances. But dancing requires immense stami; so they perform the rhythmic hand movements for 15-20 minutes, take a short break of five minutes, and resume, Mehta explained. Afflicted by polio in her childhood, Siddhi always yearned to learn garba and dandiya, but the doors were slammed everywhere on her face — till she met Mehta. Jesal’s hearing disability was a major dampener for her sheer passion for dancing, especially during vratri, and she joined Mehta’s classes in 2015. (IANS)