Flying on two sticks

Dergin Tokmak contracted polio when he was a one year old infant. The disease left him with very limited use of his legs. In spite of – or perhaps because of this – he began a high flying career as a dancer. He created his own totally unique style, on two crutches.

Dergin was born in the southern German town of Augsburg in 1973 to Turkish parents. At 12 months he contracted polio, also known as infantile paralysis. He lost control over his left leg and could only partially use his right leg. He learned however to move with his hands.

And move he did…

At the age of 12 he saw for the first time “Breakin” an American break-dance film. What he saw had an enduring affect on him: A dancer, who could not use his legs, performed acrobatic dance movements on the floor and on crutches. That was enough of a stimulus for Dergin to train and find his own dance style on crutches. With his style of break-dancing he quickly established himself on the Hip-Hop scene in Germany and could even perform with the band “Run DMC”. Eventually international television stations also became aware of “Stix”, Dergins stage name, and invited him to perform on TV. He also performed with other disabled break-dancers and organized workshops for disable children in collaboration with the organization “Aktion Mensch” (“Operation Human”, German organisation which campaigns for social justice and equality).

Limping Angel

When Dergin found out that "Cirque du Soleil" were looking to employ a dancer on crutches, he was delight to take on the challenge. In the programme “Varekai” the role of a „Limping angel” needed to be filled. At the beginning Dergin was uncertain whether he was suitable for the role. But then when he saw the video of the show, he felt he had a good chance.

The show’s organisers were convinced be the german performer’s talent. Two months later Dergin had his routine perfected. Dergin worked together with the choreographer Bill Shannon – who himself used crutches – to adjust the dance solo to suit his own style. This allowed him to combine his technical and artistic ability. On the 13th of February 2004 the German performed for the first time the “Limping Angel” in front of an American audience in California. Since then his performance has evolved into one of the high points of the “Cirque du Soleil” World tour. “Varekai” is currently touring in Europe. The show with Dergin and his artistic companions can be seen in various European countries – coming soon to Switzerland and Germany.

Author: hia. Translation: PmcC - 09/2008- MyH