Luca “Lazylegz” Patuelli was born on July 28, 1984 in Montreal, Quebec with Arthrogryposis (multiplex congenita), a rare disorder characterized by limited joint movement and muscle growth. Over the course of his life, Luca has had a total of 16 surgeries. While growing up in Bethesda, Maryland, Luca never let his disability slow him down. He actively participated in everyday activities such as swimming, diving, skiing, horseback riding, sailing, and skateboarding.
At the age of 15, Luca discovered “B-boying” also known as Breakdancing. Although this was quite challenging at first, he began to learn moves and modified them to create his own unique style that incorporates both extreme upper body strength and the use of crutches. “Lazylegz” was born.
Luca had a massive impact in the Montreal dance community when he began representing Canada in top-level international events. In 2007, Lazylegz created ILL-Abilities™, an international crew consisting of the world’s best “ill-abled” dancers from Canada, USA, Chile, and Holland. The goal of the team is to show the world that as long as you are positive, creative, and willing to adapt yourself to any situation, anything is possible. Together, they continue to perform all over the world and spread the message “No Excuses, No Limits”.
Watch Luca’s latest video for International Dance Day:
1. Describe yourself in five words.
Determined. Goofy. Clever. Innovative. Passionate.
2. What are you passionate about?
I’m definitely passionate about dance. I love the aspect of sharing within the dance community, and the idea of being able to communicate with anyone despite language barriers. I’ve gone to different countries where I didn’t understand the language, and I’ve slept on the couches of people who didn't speak the same language as I do, but we were always able to communicate with our love for dance. I’m also passionate about learning from each other. This is what motivates me and drives me.
3. If you could change anything in the world, what would it be?
If I could change anything, it would be to allow half an hour of dance every day. On a deeper level though, it would be to change the perception of learning to enjoy life. Everyone has different problems, or disabilities, but it’s learning how to find the positive from the negative that’s important. From this attitude we can then learn how to make this the best life possible!
4. What is your favourite quote?
“No excuses, no limits”. However, the quote that really resonated with me is: “your first failure is not to try”.
My father always told me that as a kid. It always pushed me. If it doesn’t work out, at least I can say that I tried. It’s a powerful quote. “No excuses, no limits”, is about finding a solution to anything, and how we can adapt ourselves and do it in our own way. It’s also about not trying to be like the person beside you, and learning to become your own person. It’s about building confidence within ourselves, because once we start learning to believe in ourselves, others will believe in us too. In this way, the possibilities are endless. It’s like when Rick Hansen did the Man In Motion tour, he started out with little support, but towards the end of it, he had the support of an entire community and the whole world. This was because people believed in him because he believed in himself. It’s people like Rick and Terry Fox who teach us that the possibilities are endless. They are huge inspirations, and motivated me as well.
5. Describe a challenge you have overcome and how you dealt with it.
I think my biggest challenge was growing up as a teenager. I couldn’t get close to people as this was an internal insecurity I had. I was basically blaming my disability for why I couldn’t do things. However, I overcame it by discovering my passion for dance. It helped me discover a sense of community and sense of belonging. It gave me the confidence to believe in myself.
6. If you could remove one barrier what would it be?
I would remove social exclusion. My vision and goal of my dance programs is to bring people together, and especially to bring people with disabilities into the dance community. It’s amazing to see how some students are becoming more integrated in the community on their own. I believe that just because someone’s different, it doesn’t mean that we can’t get along with that person. Social inclusion helps to build confidence within ourselves. It also means taking the time to learn from each other. We live in such a fast paced world, and often don’t slow down to understand others, especially those who are different. If we don’t have the awareness, we might not be patient with those who have differences such as delays or hidden disabilities. For example, if you’re travelling to another country, and you don’t speak the language, people might not take the time to help you if they don’t understand you. That’s why we need to be open-minded and should realize that most barriers are internal ones we place on ourselves.
7. What are you most grateful for?
I’m grateful for a lot of things. I’m grateful for the support that I’ve been receiving from my community, my family, and the whole province of Quebec to promote my vision of no limits. I’m also very grateful for achieving my goal of taking on a role of responsibility. But what I’m most grateful for is living my passion, and I’m grateful for it every single day!