Madrid, Spain

By Susana Vera

Luismi Astorga clasps his hands as he lifts his head up to the sky. He’s waiting to take the stage at a music club in Madrid where his dance group, Fusionarte, is taking part in a charity gala.

Astorga closes his eyes and begins to pray. The click of my camera breaks his concentration and he smiles at me as he proceeds to tell me, “Waiting makes me nervous.”

It’s not the first time Astorga has faced the thrill of performing for a live audience. He has been dancing with Fusionarte since Argentine choreographer and dancer Pau Vazquez formed the group six years ago with the aim of introducing dance to people with special needs.

Around 20 adult men and women with different intellectual disabilities make up the group. They rehearse every Saturday for an hour and occasionally they perform.

“The galas are the highlight for all of them. Many times we perform at places that are not really fit for dancing, but (that) does not matter to them. They feel special on any stage,” Vazquez says.