Interview With ILL-Abilities (@ILLAbilities) From Breakin’ Convention (@BConvention) !

ILL-Abil­it­ies is an Inter­na­tion­al group com­prised of B‑boys that have over­come extraordin­ary chal­lenges to become some of the best dan­cers in the world: Canada, Chile, Hol­land, and U.S.A. Ori­gin­ally cre­ated in 2007 with the idea of being a “Super Crew” of dis­abled dan­cers, it is now becom­ing a glob­al move­ment help­ing to spread the mes­sage: No Excuses, No Lim­its. ILL-Abil­it­ies’ mis­sion is to redefine soci­ety’s view of dis­ab­il­ity, pro­mote empower­ment, and encour­age lim­it­less pos­sib­il­it­ies through motiv­a­tion­al enter­tain­ment.

I Am Hip Hop meet with Luca Patuelli from ILL- Abil­it­ies to dis­cuss the world of dance and Breakin’ Con­ven­tion!

Q. How did it all begin?

Ill-abil­it­ies is an inter­na­tion­al crew that I first put togeth­er in 2007 when I began to meet the oth­er dan­cers in com­pet­i­tions. I used to skate­board (on my knees) when I was young­er but unfor­tu­nately could no longer skate after I had sur­gery so I was look­ing for some­thing new to do. I then dis­covered breakin’ and found that I had an advant­age because it uses a lot of upper body strength.

I wanted to show the world that any­thing is pos­sible so put every­one togeth­er to start com­pet­ing in bboy com­pet­i­tions. We then real­ised that the crew was about much more than dance and so began motiv­a­tion­al speak­ing at events and schools to pro­mote a pos­it­ive mes­sage. The same with Hip Hop – its pur­pose became to cre­ate some­thing from noth­ing with an aspect of mak­ing it all work which is what I think we’ve done as a crew.

Q. So who would you say is your tar­get audi­ence?

Our tar­get mar­ket is vague because its not just those who have a dis­ab­il­ity, any­one can enjoy and relate to what we do. I see it as every­one has a dis­ab­il­ity in one form or anoth­er wheth­er it’s phys­ic­al or emo­tion­al so it’s for every­one.

Q. Tell me about your show at Breakin’ Con­ven­tion?

We’re doing two shows this year — A short­er ver­sion of our more pop­u­lar show ‘No Lim­its’ and a longer ver­sion of a show called ‘Lim­it­less’. They’re both pieced togeth­er by our indi­vidu­al stor­ies. Because we’re all dif­fer­ently abled the cho­reo­graphy is unique and there’s some adapt­ing involved, which is beau­ti­ful to watch. We always joke that when the 5 of us are togeth­er we form the strength and body of 3 people!

Q.  What does Breakin’ Con­ven­tion mean to you?

Its our first intro­duc­tion to the UK and because its show­cas­ing crews from all over the world it becomes this great cel­eb­ra­tion of the­at­ric­al dance. It’s really an aspect of shar­ing and watch­ing each oth­ers work. There’s such an open­ness about the event. We’ve also learnt as a crew about the import­ance of good music and con­vey­ing emo­tion in our per­form­ance because of Breakin’ Con­ven­tion.

Q. Have you had much pre­ju­dice grow­ing up?

Each of us have exper­i­enced dif­fer­ent things. For examply ‘Kujo’ (Jac­ob) tried to hide the fact that he was deaf when he was grow­ing up and ‘Guns’ (Tommy) came grew up in care hav­ing been fostered so com­pared him­self to oth­er people. This is all because of a fear of what oth­ers thought. But we’ve over­come many obstacles as a group, and we try to tell these indi­vidu­al stor­ies through our work. We’ve learnt a lot about each oth­er.

Q. Do you feel like there’s been any­thing in soci­ety which has helped to change those pre­ju­dices. The Para­lympics for example.

As I’ve grown up I’ve noticed that soci­ety is slowly becom­ing more accept­ing. But before I per­formed in the Van­couver 2010 Para­lympics open­ing cere­mony I felt that dis­ab­il­it­ies were hid­den and talk­ing about it was always brushed under the car­pet. After that per­form­ance and the Para­lympics in Bri­tain I’ve seen a slow change. Because shar­ing a stage with so many oth­ers you see no dif­fer­ence as we’re all in it togeth­er. Edu­ca­tion is key when it comes to talk­ing about it.


On a last note I found Luca to be extremely inspir­ing and look for­ward to watch­ing Ill-abil­it­ies per­form. Here’s a great quote about their name from their web­site:

 In the con­text of hip-hop cul­ture, it’s usu­al to take some­thing neg­at­ive and make it pos­it­ive. For example; bad, nasty, mean, ill, sick, all are com­monly con­sidered com­pli­ments when used to describe a per­son, group, and/or a situ­ation.

That being said, when the word “ill” is used as an adject­ive, instead of mean­ing “sick” or “not well,” it actu­ally describes some­thing that is either incred­ible, amaz­ing, intric­ate, or super tal­en­ted. Hence, the word “Dis­ab­il­ity” can often be used to describe one’s (neg­at­ive) lim­it­a­tions, so we cre­ated the term “ILL-Abil­ity” (ILL-Abil­it­ies™) to describe our (pos­it­ive) cap­ab­il­it­ies. 

Details of their show at Breakin Con­ven­tion can be found here:

 Subika Anwar_Headshot 1

 Subika Anwar


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About Subika Anwar

Subika Anwar
Playwright & Actor. Brand new website. Take a look to find out more about me

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