When academic learning becomes a challenge for people with Dyslexia, creative expression becomes their way of finding peace in chaos.
Learning disabilities like Dyslexia can impact the way of living. If not diagnosed, children are soon labeled as dull or disobedient children and the academic stress never lessens. Efforts are being made to help children excel or improve academics, adding pressure and stress on children.
It is generally the creative activities that help children with Dyslexia express themselves and find peace in their life. The world has witnessed various great athletes, writers, scientists, CEOs, musicians, and whatnot with Dyslexia excelling in their areas and providing a ray of hope for all those children with Dyslexia struggling with their academics and trying to find peace.
Dyslexia is not the end of the world; rather, it is that bright and positive side of life that brings the best out of people and helps them achieve what they deserve. Challenges are indeed part of their journey, but completely worth it in the face of that positive side of life.
In this article, we have listed some remarkable dancers from all over the world who have Dyslexia but made their disability into something special and beautiful.
List of some exceptional dancers with Dyslexia
Dance is among the most creative and common expressive forms for people with dyslexia. Listed below are some renowned personalities that have been diagnosed with dyslexia and have a long and successful career in dancing.
1. Darcey Bussell
Darcey Bussell is a world-renowned ballet dancer and became the judge of the show ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ after she retired from Ballet. Bussell was diagnosed with Dyslexia at the age of seven years. Writing and academic learning were always a challenge for Bussell, and hiding in cupboards was her way of dealing with academic challenges.
However, she soon realized the positive side of her disability and paved her way toward ballet dance. In the Daily Mail, she stated Dyslexia had been a blessing for her. It helped her find her true strengths and directed her toward what she wished to do. Today there will hardly be any person in the dance industry who is unaware of Darcey Bussell and her achievements.
2. Aakash Odedra
Aakash Odedra is another phenomenal dancer with dyslexia who infused Indian classical dance forms like Kathak with a contemporary twist to bring out something new and unique. His dance and body language was his way of saying things when words did not allow him to. During his early dance experiments, Aakash collaborated with Lewis Major and co-choreographed a dance piece called ‘Murmur’. Symbolically, Murmur is Aakash’s duet with his dyslexia and represents his dyslexic journey. Though Murmur is just one side of the coin. The other side, called ‘Inked’ was choreographed by Damien Jalet along with Aakash Odedra.
As stated by Guardian, both ‘Murmur’ and ‘Inked’ were performed at the International Dance Festival in Birmingham and they represent that intelligence has multiple forms and dyslexia does not indicate a lack of intelligence. Rather it is the body’s sensitivity and universal emotions that increase self-awareness and also constitute intelligence.
3. Sabrina Brazzo
Sabrina Brazzo is a gracious and phenomenal ballerina who, with her sheer will and passion for her career, is now an international star and the world’s best ballerina. Brazzo is the principal ballerina at La Scala Theatre in Milan. She has given some best ballet performance pieces, such as ‘Go with the Flow’, ‘Ricomincio da qui’, ‘Bolle and Friends, etc. She also has been rewarded with numerous awards for her exceptional talent, such as Premio Simona Atzori in 2010 and Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow in 2010, among others.
In an interview, she said that her Dyslexia made her follow instructions a challenge. Even the verbal instructions were hard to follow for her. But that didn’t stop her from reaching where she is today. She found a way around and made ballerina a reality for her.
4. Charlotte Edmonds
Charlotte Edmonds is a dancer, choreographer, and filmmaker who started her professional career at 18. She was a commissioned choreographer for the RAD’s Genee International Ballet Competition 2015 and a young choreographer at The Royal Ballet. Her journey represents her remarkable achievements as a dancer and choreographer. In her career journey, she has worked for some big names like the Dutch National Ballet Junior Company, Ballet Cymru, and Studio Wayne McGregor, among others.
In her podcast, called, ‘Move Beyond Words’, she empowered and supported the voices of artists with Dyslexia and shared her own experiences of being a dyslexic and dancer, choreographer, and filmmaker, shared in an interview.
5. Elizabeth Rose Arifien
Elizabeth Rose Arifien is a choreographer, dancer, filmmaker, and director of Creative Dance London. She also founded ‘Move Beyond Words’ with Charlotte Edmonds. Elizabeth Arifien and Charlotte Edmonds were diagnosed with Dyslexia and found a way to express themselves through dance. Stuck and disappointed with her written tasks at school, Arifien found comfort in dance.
In an interview, she said, staying physically active helped her get out of her head and end the negative connotations arising from Dyslexia. Elizabeth and Charlotte have choreographed six performances and six short movies, covering a wide range of fascinating topics, such as technology, science, the prison sector, creativity, education, and migration.
6. Hamza Yassin
Hamza Yassin, an exceptional dancer, and a phenomenal wildlife photographer, is a winner of the great dance show ‘Strictly Come Dancing, 2022’. Hamza Yassin was diagnosed with Dyslexia as a teenager, and he believed that his learning disability is a unique ‘gift’ to him that has helped him win the competition, as stated by him in Daily Records.
He further said that his photographic memory allows him to think and view in 3D pictures, making remembering the complex dance steps easy. Rather than considering Dyslexia as a curse, he believed Dyslexia helped him out with dancing and made him feel the music rather than only listening to it.
7. Casey Treu
Casey Treu is a ballroom dancer and a member of BYU Ballroom. He is an Orem native and began dancing at the age of 7 years. Dancing never comes easy for him due to his Dyslexia. Following and processing instructions and movements became a challenge at times. As Treu himself quoted in The Daily Universe, ‘I process information slower and different– but I can.
But that didn’t stop him from following his passion, and his will to prove himself led him to pick up dance. He has been awarded prizes and national titles for his dancing skills.
Learning disabilities like Dyslexia are often considered an illness with no cure. But what people forget is there is always a way around it. If words and numbers distort around you, let them twirl with you and sing for you. A coin has two sides, and so does Dyslexia. If it impairs your reading skills, it also provides you with exceptional talent that only requires a little nurturing to bloom into a beautiful flower. Exceptional dance skills, photographic memory, singing, sports skills, etc., all are part of the creative side of Dyslexia.
I am Sehjal Goel, a psychology student, and a writer. I am currently pursuing my Masters’s from Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. Child psychology has always fascinated me and I have a deep interest in learning about disabilities in children and spreading awareness regarding the same. My other areas of interest are neuropsychology and cognitive psychology. Connect me on Linkedin