Aldo Gennaro came to Australia via Julliard in New York in the early seventies, from Chile.
He had spent time in an Augustinian monastery, then branched out into dance and theatre, finally settling into working with people with disabilities, here in Australia. Intellectual, cultural, economic disabilities, Aldo was there to share what he knew about the human body, and how to use it to express love, connection, aspirations and triumph. I may not be writing this too well, but for the moment I hope you will be patient.
My mother ran a school for people who were brain-damaged ~ whether it was Downs or trauma, whatever. Aldo was recommended to teach there ; it's how I came to know him.
He began with dance, and soon formed the idea for a show, which became the first major production staffed entirely by people with mental disabilities. It was called Stepping Out. It premiered at The Sydney Opera House in 1980. A friend, Chris Noonan ( later Babe etc ) made a documentary of it ( camera Dean Dances With Wolves Semler. ) I'm sorry no youtube or hyperlink, but a sample, here :
I wanted to relate a few things Aldo said, about the time he spent at Sunshine Home, mom's school. In the course of putting Stepping Out together, he experienced many many things ...
That was the first time I experienced real love in my life, unconditional love. Those people have the ability. They don't love you because you are special, they love you because the only thing they do is love. It doesn't matter if you are young or old or skinny or plump they give their hearts to you and that comes from very deep within themselves. Every time an intellectually disabled person touched me ... I felt a sense of release and I realised some sort of healing was happening inside of me. ... they are very wounded people and they have the ability, they are the healers. They are the only real healers that I have become involved with in my life.
Aldo died in 1988. He left behind many friends, among them a little dog called Dolores, a gift from an aboriginal community he was working with out west. Of Dolores he said this :
No, no, no, I don't want a dog. A dog will tie me down too much, I don't need a dog.
... She's very tiny. I can put her in my backpack with no problem at all. She comes with me wherever I go. We have a funny relationship, an independent relationship but also a very close relationship.
Do you know someone with an 'intellectual disability' ? I'd love to hear any more stories, along these lines.
aldo pic : dimity figner, a few weeks before Aldo died.
aldo quotes : caroline jones ; the search for meaning. abc.1989.
clip for Seer