Fighting Down Syndrome: A mother teaches kids to be creative

"They now better understand what Tatyana wants from them and can remember the sequence of movements and difficult steps. Of course they are happy and the parents are even happier,” Movsumov added.

"They now better understand what Tatyana wants from them and can remember the sequence of movements and difficult steps. Of course they are happy and the parents are even happier,” Movsumov added.

Anar Movsumov
Tatyana Kayukova is a former variety show dancer and she believes theater can help children, such as her son, who are challenged by Down Syndrome. Theater Without Borders is her way to spread love and hope.
Kids take a seat on the floor in a circle and roll a ball between each other. This is how they are taught to communicate.
Tatyana Kayukova from Samara (600 miles southeast of Moscow) is a professional dancer who used to be a variety show soloist. Her life changed drastically when she gave birth to Artem, who has Down Syndrome.
First, she suffered from a lack of information about DS, as well as how to manage her own anger and distaste towards kids with DS.
So, she founded a theater where everyone can feel loved and welcomed. Tatyana's main goal is to teach children how to express their feelings and emotions.  For small kids, classes are like a game, with music, dance, and exercises. Tatyana guides them to action, and while older kids already know that it's theater, they play their roles. If it’s difficult for them to express themselves, Tatyana helps.
In the studio, kids do physical exercises and learn how to balance on a ballet barre and develop their coordination and motor functions.
According to statistics, about 1,500 children are born with Down Syndrome in Russia annually. Charity organizations say that 50-85 percent of them are sent to an orphanage because their parents refuse them immediately after birth.
A newbie, Yuri, is afraid of loud sounds, and he is not alone with his fears. But Tatyana says it's important to help children get used to music, speak normally, and not to whisper with them as many parents do.
Tatyana plans to make Theater Without Borders into a genuine inclusive theater, accepting not only DS kids. Recently, Tatyana reconnected with her classmate, Svetlana, who became blind, and she invited her to join the troupe.
After physical exercises, children have rehearsal. Tatyana choreographs all the dancing performances and theatrical pieces. During the first performances parents help kids understand at which moment they should enter onto the stage.
At the premier Tatyana leads the production and acts in the scene in order to make the children feel more confident and comfortable.
Alena waits for her parents after classes. During the hour and a half when Tatyana is busy with the children, parents who usually focus on them 24/7 can finally have a rest and discuss their problems with state officials.
If some kids can't manage to do what the others are doing and retreats into himself, then Tatyana doesn’t force the situation. She thinks every child should move at his own pace.
There are about 20 people in a group, and some don’t visit classes regularly. The core team consists of 10 children.
"I attended classes for about a year, and I can say that most children have made good progress since that time," said photographer Anar Movsumov.
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