At 8, what most of us think about is what to play, how to bunk school. But a girl from Ernakulam, Kerala had kickstarted preparing for a flourishing career in dance with her professional training and had started performed in many shows. Divya Shankar, who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, did not let the adversities get the best of her and worked hard to live her dream as a dancer.
Divya has performed at over 30 venues. Her biggest support system is her family who ensures that she gets through life's challenges.
Fighting The Odds
Divya was born as a premature baby and had many health complications at the time of birth. After a few months, she was diagnosed with Down Syndrome and that shattered her parents Rajeswari and Sankaranarayanan. But they were not ready to give up. They looked out for the best therapies for their daughter. That was when doctor suggested the family introduce her to art, especially dance.
She is currently studying in class 10 at a government school. According to her doctor, that was the best way to train her to live in an inclusive society. "Being in an inclusive school has helped her a lot. The teachers and her classmates are very supportive of her and she has been studying there for the past nine years. It is a government rule that a disabled child must be admitted in regular schools," said the girl's mother.
Divya is trained in classical dance forms including Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, and Mohiniyttam. She is undergoing training at Amritavani dance school under the guidance of her teacher —Seema Kannan. Rajeswari has ensured that she stays at home to make sure that her daughter gets nothing but the best. "We have ensured that she lives like a normal child. We have never kept her aside. She loves to spend time with people and we all go together for social gatherings too."
Rajeshwari shared that during the early years, Divya could not express herself at all. In fact, she did not have any facial expressions. That was when her doctor told them to introduce her to dance so that she can learn expressions. Dance worked like magic on the girl. She started expressing herself better and overall, dance has done many wonders. "We would suggest dance therapy to all children with disabilities," Rajeshwari said.
Divya's biggest supporter is her brother Sarath. who recently completed his engineering course. A trained singer, Sarath performs with her sister at various venues. "Since childhood, I used to sing to her and she dances beautifully to my tunes. I noticed that Divya was passionate about dance from a very young age. As a brother, I wanted to support her throughout," shared Sarath.
Currently, she holds the Record Titled 'GIRL WITH DOWN SYNDROME PERFORMING BHARATNATYAM' for 2 hours straight on December 23rd, 2018 in the India Book of Records.
Invite the mesmerizing Divya to your event and see for yourself the magic here.