Art is meant to be practiced, performed, created and enjoyed by all, regardless of age, ability, or whatever obstacles one has had to overcome in life. Perhaps nobody illustrates this better than Luca “Lazylegz” Patuelli.
Patuelli, 34, was born with arthrogryposis, a neuromuscular disorder that affects the bones and joints (and has undergone 16 surgeries in total, since he was seven months old, to support his legs, hips, spine and shoulders). At the age of 15, the Montreal native was introduced to breakdancing and fell in love – using his upper body strength and crutches as extensions of his arms to create his own unique style. It wasn’t long before the world started to take notice.
Since then, the husband and father has shared his inspiring story and message with millions and has gained national and international exposure, including appearances on the Ellen Degeneres Show and America’s Got Talent, just to name a few. He has also competed and performed at high-profile events around the globe including the 2010 Paralympic Opening Ceremonies, World of Dance, and Hip Hop International. Patuelli has also invested much time in helping lift others by creating ILL-Abilities, a team comprised of some of the world’s best differently-abled dancers, and co-founding RAD Movement, an urban dance program for young people with disabilities.
This week, Patuelli takes his “No Excuses, No Limits” tour to Newfoundland, bringing his inspiring message of inclusion, perseverance, personal empowerment and overcoming adversity to audiences young and old from all walks of life. The shows, which will include a performance and motivational presentation, are presented by Neighbourhood Dance Works (as part of Festival of New Dance) and the Arts and Culture Centre. Patuelli will visit five locations including Corner Brook on September 25, Stephenville (school matinee) on September 26, Grand Falls-Windsor on September 29, and Gander on September 30. (Ticket information for these shows is available here.) On October 3, he will perform at City Hall in St. John’s and on October 6, there will be a free presentation, workshop and social with Patuelli at Easter Seals House.
Neighbourhood Dance Works says the tour is an “unprecedented collaboration” between the performing arts and health sectors across the province. The tour will be presented in partnership with Eastern Health, the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities, the CNIB Foundation, the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA), Easter Seals, Memorial University, the Wellness Coalition, Recreation NL, Rare Disease Foundation, L’Arche Avalon, Rotary East Foundation, and Eat Well and Participate.
“What I find most amazing about the partnership between the performing arts sector, health and the non-profit community is that we all see our role in what it means to promote inclusion in the arts. From the position of the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities, it’s about raising awareness and education on what is possible when entire communities think inclusively. We change and reformat old belief systems and realize anything is possible,” says Emily Christy, Executive Director of Coalition of Persons with Disabilities NL.
“The arts give us the outlet to think creatively, test boundaries and go places we haven’t yet gone. That is an amazing holistic perspective that we can all see the value in!”
Eileen Bartlett, Inclusion Representative with Recreation NL, says Patuelli provides an excellent example of achievement regardless of challenges – something from which we can all learn.
“His presentation demonstrates perseverance and adaptability when faced with obstacles. We all face adversity in different ways, but we all also have the power within ourselves to not only overcome this adversity, but to follow our dreams and be successful,” she says.
“Recreation NL is happy to support the cross-province tour of Luca, so that his positive message reaches persons with and without disabilities. This is a wonderful opportunity for everyone to come together, have some fun, and be part of the promotion for ‘No Excuses, No Limits.’”