“When God closes a door, he opens a window.”
Following this school of thought, Leo Club of Poona Nature Lovers, an NGO from Pune, organised a talent show featuring differently-abled people who are also extremely talented artists. The show included spectacular dance and music performances as well as art displays.
EPIC—Encouraging Potential in Community—is not just an annual show of dance and songs. For the performers, it is a platform of recognition to the world. Sanjay Solankhi, a dance performer of EPIC, told The Better India,
“This art-form and this group gives us an identity in life. We do not do different things but do ordinary things differently.”
EPIC is an annual event organised by the volunteer organisation, and it spends months brainstorming, planning, and executing the work that builds towards and culminates in a one-day show.
Although the NGO is based in Pune, and the event is also held there, the organisers make sure that the performers come in from other parts of India as well. Residents of Gujarat, Karnataka, and Odisha have participated in this show.
Pratik Kela, the organiser of EPIC and founder of Nature Lovers, told TBI, “The concept was initiated in 2014 with the sole purpose of encouraging the exceptional and outstanding potential in the visually impaired, deaf, mute as well as individuals with physical and mental challenges.”
The motive of the show goes beyond the display of talents. Pratik told TBI that for many performers, this is the stage that brings them respect and recognition in society.
“Since mental illness and physical disability is still a taboo topic in many rural parts of India, a talent show in Pune was where the lives of the differently-abled people changed for good,” said Pratik.
“There’s a dance troupe from Orissa who was ignored, if not underestimated, in their village. After their performance at EPIC in 2017, all of the performers were welcomed with garlands and bouquets at the railway station when they returned home.”
Such recognition goes a long way in the lives of the performers, and additionally, differently-abled icons are invited to these events in order to provide even more inspiration and encouragement to the performers.
One of the guests at EPIC 2018 was Abhishek Taware, who has been an inspiration to the differently abled since he became the first Teeth Archer from India. Read more about Abhishek here.
Dhaval Khatri, an artist without arms, was another guest at this year’s event. You can read more about him here.
An eminent list of guests and recognition from the media has encouraged performers to keep practising in the field they excel in and bring the world’s attention to their talents.
For the organisers and performers of EPIC, it is all about the recognition “for their abilities, not disabilities.”