Darren’s got drive and talent

2009-11-14 00:00

A STRONG sense of self-belief and some hot moves helped hearing-impaired Darren Rajpal secure the R250 000 prize in SA’s Got Talent on Thursday.

Beat boxer George Avakian from Johannesburg was the runner-up, with eight-year-old singer Cleo Filander from Vereeniging receiving the third most votes in the grand finale of the reality competition.

“I’ve always believed in myself, so right from the very beginning of this competition I thought I would do well,” the Mayville resident said after winning the contest.

Nineteen-year-old Rajpal, who is in his final year at Fulton School for the Deaf in Gillitts, admitted to being slightly overwhelmed by the level of support he received from the country.

“I’m very happy to know that I have so many suppor­ters out there and I want to thank each and every one of them,” he added.

Asked why he thought he connected with so many viewers, the young hip hop dancer said: “I think people rooted for me because of my skills.”

That’s probably true — he is an incredibly talented dancer and a great choreographer — but what came across to people even more was his great character and his positive attitude towards life.

The judges — Ian von Memerty, Shado Twala and Randall Abrahams — certainly felt his charisma.

“He might not be able to hear us when we communicate, but we feel him when he communicates,” said Abrahams.

His comments were echoed by Twala, who said: “He’s so free and happy when he dances — it’s something to be shared with the rest of the country.”

Asked how he is able to choreograph pieces without hearing the notes, Rajpal said: “Firstly, I have thoughts — what moves and what kind of dance I want to do. And I rely on the vibrations of the music, especially the bass. It helps me feel the music.

“I also have a numbering system that I use. For example, one is for bass, two is for something softer. And, if there are words in the music, like love, then my mom will assist me. She tells me the words and I memorise where they are in the song, so that I can include a reference in the dance la­ter on.”

Rajpal first began dancing at the age of 14, after seeing hip hop dancers on television and being intrigued by their moves. He taught himself and now, thanks to his success on SA’s Got Talent, he hopes to be able to share his skills with other young dancers.

“I know that there are so many people out there, both deaf people and others, who wish to dance, but they don’t have the necessary skills and know-rhow to contact people to train them or assist them with dancing,” he said.

“I love teaching people and so I would love to start a school. It would be very fulfilling to be able to share my skills.”

Rajpal’s creative abilities were recognised and nurtured by his mother, Shereen, and the Fulton School for the Deaf, whose staff and pupils will be at Durban International Airport today to welcome him home with banners and posters.

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