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Disability not inability depicted in dance

Life is a game of compromise where different components in society complement each other to strike equilibrium.

By Kennedy Nyavaya

Sebastian Tjoerstad
Sebastian Tjoerstad

This was the depiction staged by a dance collaboration at The Standard Theatre at the Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa) on Thursday.

The exceptional choreographic story titled The Balance was done by physically challenged Norwegian Sebastian Tjoerstad and Harare-bred professional dancer Nasser Mhende.

The piece, which lasts over 30 minutes and was showcased on Tuesday as well, is a fusion of modern dance and physical theatre techniques.

Speaking to the audience after the showcase, Oslo-based Tjoerstad said he used his talents to become a valuable element of society.

“I used dance as a way of controlling my body to be able to move on my own and I am very grateful for meeting Nasser because now we can get to find that balance,” he said.

In their set, the two begin by portraying how divided people cannot build anything, with Mhende putting placards on top of each other before his colleague pushes them into disarray.

The second half of the theatrical dance portrays the duo balancing each other in a synchronised rhythmic manner similar to ballet dancing.

Tjoerstad, who was born without legs and arms, added that the belief that physical disability translated to inferiority was a misconception.

“I learned early that balance is not only in your body but also in your mind,” he said, explaining how he struggled to carve a niche throughout his childhood.

“You know what I did both in school yard and with my siblings, I used humour and observation as my balance as well as weapon.”

Tjoerstad, who is also a comedian and actor, expressed his elation for being given a chance to perform at Hifa, saying he felt like it was the beginning of greater exploits internationally.

He has lived the better part of his life searching for his purpose in society and has used that to also encourage hopeless people in and out of his home country.

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