Desporto no Bairro and ILL Abilities break barriers through dance

  • Dulce Pereira Abrantes

  • Article


The municipal programme “Desporto no Bairro, organised by Ágora – Cultura e Desporto do Porto, and implemented on the ground by Max Oliveira and his crew, the Momentum, the first professional street dance crew in Portugal, feature the closing concert of the project’s first edition, on 9th December, at 8.30pm, at Super Bock Arena- Pavilhão Rosa Mota. After three months, it’s time to take Breaking to the stage, which they will share with the international dance crew Ill Abilities, Tickets for the show are free, but reservation is mandatory (maximum 2 per person), via the email

Desporto no Bairro” was launched in September and engaged youth in eight neighbourhoods in Porto, namely Aldoar, Fonte da Moura, Viso, Ramalde, Cerco, Lagarteiro, Pasteleira, and Pinheiro Torres. Kids were shown a new lifestyle, by embracing Breaking, inspired and tutored by Max Oliveira, and his Bboys and Bgirls at Momentum Crew.

Past three months the project kicked off, it’s time to take to the stage the 35 finalists of the “Desporto no Bairro” first edition, aged between 6 and 19 years. Alongside these BBoys and BGirls on stage, there will be the international dance crew Ill Abilities, formed by the founder Luca ‘Lazylegz’ Patuelli, from Canada, Sergio ‘Checho’ Carvajal, from Chile, Jacob ‘Kujo’ Lyons, from the United Stated of America, Lucas ‘Perninha’ Machado and Samuel Henrique ‘Samuka’ , both from Brazil, and Jung Soo ‘Krops’ Lee, from South Korea. ‘Lazylegz’ and ‘Krops’ were not able to travel due to Covid-19 restrictions in place in their respective countries.

‘Porto.’ joined Ill Abilities, on 4th December, at the auditorium of the Municipal Library Almeida Garrett, and talked to them just before the beginning of the Work&Share workshop. They recounted their passion for dance, how they embrace their (dis)abilities and make them their strength and uniqueness, thus shaping the international hip-hop scene. They were invited by Ágora municipal company, in the framework of the “Desporto no Bairro” project.

Porto.: Who has come up with the name ‘ill Abilities’?

Ill Abilities: Ill Abilities is an international dance crew and we’re all from different countries, in total from six different countries; so, we have here ‘Samuka’ from Brasilia, Brazil, we have ‘Perninha’ from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, we have ‘Checho’ from Chile, we have ‘Kujo’, from LA, USA, myself, I’m ‘Redo’ from the Netherlands and there are two other members, ‘Krops’ from South Korea and ‘Lazylegz’ from Montreal Canada. And ‘Lazylegz’ is the founder of Ill Abilities and he had the idea of creating a super crew team, a team of the world’s best dancers that happen to have a disability. And he put us altogether and together we form ill Abilities and the name basically comes from the word disability, but a disability is always negative, so we replaced the prefix “dis” with the word ill and this word literally means sick, but in the Hip Hop world it actually means good, as if you see something you like you say “oh, that’s good, that’s sick, ill”.

Porto.: Can any people join your group?

Ill Abilities: No, it’s closed. We started the crew in 2007, the original three crew members were ‘Lazylegz’, the founder, myself (‘Kujo’) and another member, Tommy from S. Francisco, who has since been living in Japan with his family and has parted the group.

Besides the three of us, we also had ‘Checho’ here, just a little, bit later, we had the idea of a group, but the very first performance that solidify, established the crew as entity was three people because we couldn’t get him to go to Los Angeles; but the original three or the original four; but the reason said no one can join is kind of a joke but in time when people see ill abilities they go “oh, it’s a company, where can I go and submit an application and become a member; no, it doesn’t work that way because in the Hip Hop world a crew is the extended family, or not even extended, it’s a second family because many people in the Hip Hop world come from poverty and they have no family, or they have broken families and so because they are missing family in their home, they find family in the community, where people do things they also want to do, it might be rapping, it might be DJ, it might be the graffiti arts or dance; and so, for us we all have original crews in our neighbourhoods around the world that are our family and as you said, we are a multi star crew, a super all-star crew and for us to work is That you pick a person from one crew and you create a super crew, a better team , team of more famous people. We are disabled people, distant disabled people from our individual crews and locations. In a crew you just don’t ask to join, you have to be invited.

Porto.: But you reverberate the message that everyone, no matter the fact that one does not have one leg, an arm, that person can still dance or practise some type of art; you inspire others, thus the motto: No Excuses, no limits, right?

Ill Abilities: Sure, but because the qualifications are, I mean it does not means that they are that high, but when you have a disability of some sort, and mine is that I can’t hear, that’s my disability. So, you have to have a kind of disability, you have to be an exceptional dancer, BBoy specifically, we love all the other dances but we specifically focus on the BBoy and BGirls.

Porto.: Speaking of BBoys and BGirls, have you had the chance to see what the young people in the neighbourhoods in Porto are able to do?

Ill Abilities: Yes, it’s amazing and I think that the great thing about dancing is that it’s so open to anybody, you don’t have to have a certain income to join or to have a certain background, it’s really open, and what it can change; for us dancing really changed our lives, and now with the whole project happening in Porto you see the same thing happening, it doesn’t really matter where you come from, it’s just the passion and the love for dance that really changed our life.

That’s what it did for us and with our group we want to focus and really show people that anything is possible; wherever you come from, what disability you maybe have, whatever your race, culture or gender, it doesn’t matter, because we share the love for dancing, we have passion for it, and that anything is possible.

Porto.: Do you train a lot; how many hour a day, week do you train? Is it hard?

Ill Abilities: Breaking is definitely a difficult dance style, it takes years to practise, to get good at maybe one move, so, a lot of us been dancing for over ten or fifteen years, he’s the one who has been dancing the longest – KOKO- he’s been dancing for 28 years, so he’s bene dancing the longest. He has a lot of experience and like the younger ones, including myself, have been practising a lot, many hours a day and it is not just something that you do, if you want to get good at it, you have to practice a lot.

Porto.: Have you had any feedback from your fans from audiences, people that you’ve inspired.

Ill Abilities: Ill Abilities is really now an inspirational crew for the people, and we have a lot of really good messages like “your crew is amazing, it inspired me to motivate myself and now I know I can do I want to do.

Porto.: Is it like a starting point for someone?

Ill Abilities: Yes, it is but also because we are able to travel to so many countries, we are able to work with perception about people with disabilities; In some countries that we visit, people with disabilities are a minority and they only think about the limitations and that someone cannot do this, and we want to really break these barriers and build bridges and show possibilities, show what is possible instead of all the negativity.

Porto.: Describe what being part of Ill Abilities has brought to you in your lives, and they invite everyone to come and see you and the kids from Porto neighbourhoods n Porto

Ill Abilities: Family; Perseverance; Hope; Inspiration; Freedom; Ágape (Greek) – a kind of love that puts the love of the community, the world above your own, and that represents what we are in a very special way.