Well-known Montreal b-boy brings motivational presentation to St. John’s city hall.
When Luca Patuelli finished speaking about overcoming obstacles, the crowd all rose to their feet, clapping loudly.
“It doesn’t matter if you have a disability or not, you can understand and appreciate the message that there are no limits to what we can accomplish in our lives, what I try to do is give a little bit of my story and my experiences to help encourage my audiences,” Patuelli said.
Patuelli, also known as Lazylegz, is from Montreal. Patuelli was born with arthrogryposis, a neuromuscular disorder which affects the joints and bones of the body. The disability affects his legs causing him to have tiny muscles. Patuelli also suffered from scoliosis, once having a 70-degree angle in his spine. By the age of 17, he had undergone 16 different surgeries to support his legs, hips, shoulders, and spine.
He taught himself at a very young age to stay positive throughout any situation and that he would not let his disability define or stop him from doing the things he loved, always making the games and things he did work to his best ability. His first passion was for skateboarding. After a surgery straightened his legs to a 90-degree angle, Patuelli had to let his skater dreams go. It was shortly after this, at the age of 15, he was introduced to the art form of break dancing by a close friend. Patuelli attended his first breaking competition and realized dancing is what he wanted to do.
Although there were issues at first, he was determined to not be limited. He noticed early on that it took a lot of footwork to be a b-boy. But using the same methods he had a as child, he began adapting the use of his hands into his routine. He slowly began creating a unique style that took advantage of his upper body strength by using his crutches as extensions of his arms. At that moment, Lazylegz was born.
The love he had for hip-hop and the culture helped spark his career as a b-boy. Patuelli loved the art form from the beginning because of the way it made him feel.
“Breaking to me, let’s just say, compared to other dance styles is it’s really about freedom, and expression, and being unique and being different,” said Pautelli.
Over the past 13 years, Patuelli has developed his career as a professional dancer, competing in multiple competitions, winning numerous awards and making multiple TV appearances.
His success has left Patuelli wanting more than fame, he wanted to help motivate others.
He has become a strong advocate for inclusion and integration as he aims to bring people of all abilities together through the power of dance. He created ILL-Abilities, a unique breakdance crew made up of what they call differently-abled dancers. He also teaches breaking classes to multiple students in Montreal.
The interactive presentation includes stories from Patuelli, a dance lesson and a break dance routine. The motivational exercise is part of the Festival of New Dance; a 10-day contemporary dance festival presented by Neighbourhood Dance Works showcasing different artists and talent across Canada.
Lynn Pennington is the coordinator for the Festival of New Dance. She was impressed with the audience’s reaction to Patuelli’s performance. She says it’s all you can hope for.
“Oh, it’s fantastic,” Pennington said. “And of course it’s children that bring a smile to everyone’s face – and Luca is able to communicate with his audience and really charge them up. But just to see the delight and kids race up there to be part of it is really gratifying.”
Pennington adds it’s been almost two years of trying to secure Patuelli for the festival. He gained their attention through social media and they knew he was perfect for the festival. They describe him as a champion and a hero to anyone with a disability.
“He is breaking boundaries,” said Pennington.