Lazylegz: Adapt, Adopt, Carry On

When Luca “Lazylegz” Patuelli discovered dance, he fell in love with the art form. His handicap never once stopped him from achieving his goal: he quickly made the leap and became a professional dancer. Robbed of the use of his legs, his crutches became his strength. He developed his own unique style. He gained international renown.

Flora Lassalle    File: Breakdancing

But Luca’s body tires out faster than that of a normal, healthy individual. He’s been aware of this for upwards of 4 years. He’s taken the time to patiently adapt to this challenge. Nowadays, he only takes up projects he knows his body can handle.

Listens to His Body

“I love to be creative,” he says, “but I’m not as competitive as I once was. I train differently. I used to try and push my limits. Now, my goals are to maintain my fitness level, and to stay sharp with my dance steps. I take better care of my body than I used to. I listen to it. I try to reach down deep inside. I now also realize that at dance-offs an competitions, I end up battling myself more than my competitors…”

Lazylegz earns as much from his conference work as he does from his dancing. But even at the seminars he puts on, he tries to always give a live performance. “Sometimes it turns out I don’t dance,” he admits. “And when I don’t perform, it always seems as if something’s missing. It’s weird to think of myself as not always dancing. But over time I’m slowly coming to accept the idea. I can always show videos of my performances, or the choreography of the young Projet RAD performers.”

Without Fear

We’ve no doubt that Lazylegz’s great strength is his complete lack of fear. As he himself puts it: “My choices are dictated by my gut.” Even if his dreams seem unattainable at first glance, no project scares him off.

“When I launched the ILL-Abilities project, no one thought it would work,” he reflects. Nonetheless, the troupe is still up and running. “When we take risks as a team, we might find ourselves in an uncomfortable position, but the results are that much more rewarding.”

This is proving another jam-packed year for them: a show at the Pan-American Games in Toronto; a performance in Korea; a month in Holland creating a show with local performers… “Sometimes it can be complicated,” he observes. “Every dancer in our crew is different, with different abilities. And they all have their individual career. It’s tough to blend their efforts equally, and use them all to best advantage.”

Despite these challenges, the troupe remains active, to Luca’s great happiness.

Career and Family

Luca is now married. The young couple is expecting their first child. His family life isn’t stopping him from dreaming up new projects.

Indeed, he sees advantages to being a new father: Having a child forces you to choose your priorities,” he says. “Before, I was always afraid of hurting people’s feelings if I said ‘no’ to a proposal. I said ‘yes’ to everyone. I’m going to have to say ‘no’ sometimes.” Travel had always been one of his great dreams, and travel he did. From now on he’ll be more selective in his destinations.

Projet RAD, a dance school open to those with disabilities, continues to keep Luca and his spouse busy: “We opened it in 2012. At first we gave one class to 5 youths. Today, 80 people with disabilities dance here. We have 6 studios, and put on 13 courses, Friday to Sunday.”

Projet RAD’s success has surprised and astonished this young couple. But they’re not resting on their laurels — they strive for ways to improve the quality of instruction at their school.

“We’ve established a certification process for our teachers,” Luca explains. “Our instructors are trained in-house. They learn about the handicapped, about how to put together a show, and about how to adapt to the needs of young people. I don’t teach them myself, but I am present once a month to meet with our students and our instructors, to talk with them.”

Always Moving Ahead

And that’s not all, he tells us: “I’m still organizing events. I like to create events that are as inclusive as possible. Like the projet Defi “Je Peux” (The “I Can” Challenge), for which I walked 2.5 km. It’s a dance project. Its goal is to bring people together to celebrate life, regardless of their differences. Right now I’m training for a dance competition in Los Angeles. My projects take every ounce of energy I have — Projet RAD, the clothing line — but I want to continue to grow and learn. We’re all apprentices in life, always learning. I never want to stop.”

Despite his fickle body, and all the twists and turns life has to throw at him, we haven’t seen the last of Lazylegz’ imaginative ideas!

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