Artist award for Samoan dancer who performs from wheelchair
Auckland, NEW ZEALAND — A renowned Samoan dancer has scooped up another award for her artistic achievements and efforts to open up the arts world to people with disabilities.
Lusi Faiva has won the Arts Access PAK’nSAVE Artistic Achievement Award 2021.
Faiva, 53, uses a wheelchair and is non-verbal. She was born with cerebral palsy, and has been creating and performing solo dance performances for over 30 years, and co-founded a dance company Touch Compass.
She told Stuff through her iPad that even in 2021, artists with disabilities struggle when they try to access funding and resources to expand their craft.
To the people behind the funding she has an open invitation: come, talk, and figure out how to make it easier.
As well as her own choreography and creations, Faiva has mentored other dancers and performers with disabilities to show them what is possible.
She said her most memorable experiences were when she worked with children as young as 10.
When she can, Faiva said she hoped to get overseas and keep learning about the different kinds of dance being performed all over the world.
“I have lots of things to explore,” she said.
The awards are hosted by Arts Access Aotearoa/Putanga Toi ki Aotearoa, a non-government organisation working to help people with disabilities get into artistic spaces, whether as performers, creators or visitors.
“Lusi brings an abundance of joy to her work and to her audiences, transforming perceptions about disability and carving out a space for other disabled Pasifika dancers,” Arts Access Aotearoa said in a statement.
Faiva’s own dance company Touch Compass celebrates disability, as well as Māoritanga and Pasifika, and has been running for 25 years.