Pinay with multiple sclerosis highlights condition in London show

Posted at 02/21/14 9:13 AM

LONDON -- A wheelchair-bound Pinay performer has staged a play to highlight her condition at one of London's most well-known dance houses.

British-born Laura Dajao--diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2008--curated, programmed and performed in "Take A Closer Look", held at Sadler's Wells in Islington during its Wild Card season last year.

The 25-year-old from east London, who was commissioned by Sadler’s Wells, wanted to raise more awareness about MS.

"Being diagnosed with it myself, I feel that people need to be more - well, not that they need to - but I feel like it's important for people to understand, at least," Dajao told ABS-CBN Europe.

"I go around in my everyday life and I do things differently because of the condition. So it's nice to have that raising awareness idea so people can understand how someone in a wheelchair might not be able to reach a door or may not be able to open a lift or whatever because the button is too high," she added.

There was also an exhibition that aimed to give people the opportunity to sample what it's like to have MS.

Everything was adjusted to wheelchair height in the interactive space, which included a variety of hanging fabrics to represent the extreme sensations an MS sufferer feels, blurred glasses to depict impaired vision, and a wheelchair assault course with ramps and obstacles.

"I suppose it's changing their perspective, or at least giving them an idea about the perspectives. It's about opening your peripheral vision a little to things that are possibly different and people who are different," Dajao explained.

Wheelchair access is limited at most theatres, which is why Dajao also wanted attendees to share in her experience and take the lift, rather than the conventional route into the auditorium.

"When I go to theatres I always feel really separated because the audience go down the stairs, or they go up the stairs, and then I'm shoved into a goods lift and have to go down with all the smelly garbage or whatever.

"I feel like that needed to be addressed and I think this is a good way of doing it. Everybody goes down the same way, so everybody is sort of equal and there's a kind of equality that is sometimes lacking in life," she added.

Take A Closer Look - which incorporates dance, song and spoken word - is a combination of stories that each tells something different about life with the neurological condition.

Dajao, who was among the handful of Filipinos to perform in the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games, is keeping busy.

The aspiring choreographer has another event lined up called ‘Take a Closer Look at Skills-rosis’, which is set to take place on June 6 at the Rich Mix Cultural Foundation in Bethnal Green, London.