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'Drag Syndrome': Performers with Down syndrome find outlet for their creativity
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of NBC News

NBC News, October 13, 2018
Posted: June 17th, 2019

[Otto] Baxter, 31, is part of an art collective called Culture Device a group of approximately 12 performers that experiment with contemporary dance and theater, pushing the boundaries of the cultural arena by changing perceptions of what it means to be an artist today. This is because of the sheer talent radiating from the small troupes repertoire, one that has tackled the likes of haute couture photography and stage classics such as "Waiting for Godot," but also on account that all the performers share the genetic condition Down syndrome. The starting point is the art, Daniel Vais, Culture Devices creative director and choreographer, told NBC News. Before Downs syndrome, before extra chromosome, before disability, before anything. Culture Device has slowly built up a reputation for its high-quality work in a sector not known for its inclusivity. A 2018 report by Arts Council England, for instance, found that most art forms and institutions generally had less than 5 percent of disabled persons working in them. I didnt plan to work with artists with Downs syndrome, said Vais. It found me. While considered a disability that has varying levels of severity, Vais dismisses what he calls a bias-ridden label, preferring to uphold the notion that individuals with Down syndrome have a mindset akin to whats needed for outstanding artistic creation. I use improvisation in all of my choreography, he said, and artists with Down syndrome are the masters of improvisation.

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