Hip hop to folk: 13-year-old Hyderabad boy with Down Syndrome has learnt 4 dance forms

A big fan of Tollywood actors Ram Charan, Junior NTR, Allu Arjun and Ram Pothineni, Tapash’s interest in dance developed when he was 8 through using smartphones.
Bhavani and her son Tapash
Bhavani and her son Tapash
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Six-year-old G Tapash was studying at a private school in Hyderabad in 2015. One day, his mother Bhavani went to the school to check up on him around 12 noon, but Tapash was nowhere to be seen. The teachers told her that he was in the washroom. More than 15 minutes passed, but Tapash did not return. When the worried mother strongly demanded to see her son, the teachers told her that Tapash was ‘put’ in a van as there was a sudden school inspection and he couldn’t be seen with the ‘normal’ students. When she went running to the van, she found Tapash locked up in a stationary vehicle, flustered and sweating.

All this because Tapash has Down Syndrome, a genetic disorder which can cause developmental delays in certain physical and mental abilities and skills. Described above is just one of the horrifying incidents that Tapash had to face from school management, apart from the bullying by schoolmates and neighbours, who do not let him mingle with others freely.

Fast forward to 2021. Tapash, who is now 13, has mastered four forms of dance – Western, folk, hip hop, and mass beat.

A big fan of Tollywood actors Ram Charan, Junior NTR, Allu Arjun and Ram Pothineni for their dance moves, Tapash’s interest in dance developed when he was 8 through using smartphones.

Speaking to TNM, his mother Bhavani says the journey was not an easy one. “After realising his interest in dance, I took him to a couple of dance coaches and academies, but nobody was ready to teach him. After the initial disappointment, he learnt to dance on his own by imitating his favourite heroes from videos. As he loves dancing, he spends at least 6 to 7 hours every day practising.”

In 2018, Tapash set a record for non-stop dancing for 40 minutes by a child with Down Syndrome and found a place in the Genius Book of Records, a collection of Indian records that has been in publication for more than 28 years. He has also won several awards for his dance performances from the state and Union governments and in several inclusive dance competitions.

To his mother’s surprise, recently Tapash has started to edit his own videos and photos using mobile apps.

Tapash, who was in the midst of decorating his home for his birthday which falls on May 3, told TNM that to him ‘Dance is everything’ and that he enjoys practising every day.

Given her own experience of being unable to find a dance teacher for Tapash, Bhavani started a dance academy in Hyderabad’s Dammaiguda to teach dance to children with disabilities. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the institute is now closed.

Tapash is also preparing for his SSC exams, which he might take up next year. After that horrifying experience at school, though Bhavani tried various other schools she was not satisfied with the way her son was being treated. “He was made to sit in the last bench, and despite having a special teacher and special fee, he was not being taught or trained in anything,” recalls Bhavani.

Following this, she is home tutoring him, which she says gives him ample time to do what he loves – dance.

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