Luca “Lazylegz” Pautelli shows off his dance skills last Friday during an assembly hosted by the DCVI Inclusion Team (Rankin Photos)
By Dan Rankin
The DCVI Inclusion Team, which has been active since November last year, hosted an assembly last Friday that began with an inspiring message about inclusivity and closed with a dance-off.
Their guest speaker was Canadian-born breakdancing sensation Luca “Lazylegz” Patuelli, who has appeared on television on such programs as the National, So You Think You Can Dance Canada, America’s Got Talent, and Ellen.
Born with the congenital condition arthrogryposis, Patuelli never had full use of the joints in his knees. As a result, the muscles in his legs never fully developed and today he walks with crutches – however those crutches, and the incredible upper body strength he has as result of depending on his arms and chest to get around, helped him develop a totally unique breakdancing style. He’s taken his acrobatic moves across North America – including recent stops at DCVI and Little Falls Public School – with his inspiring message of “No Excuses, No Limits.”
From the age of six months to 17 years old, Patuelli – who is now 31 – underwent 16 surgeries on his legs and one his back to correct his scoliosis. Born in Montreal, Patuelli grew up in Washington, D.C. and as a youngster began making a name for himself as a skateboarder who could perform tricks and get around by standing on the board on his knees and propelling himself with his hands. Surgery was a regular part of his life back then – he underwent 16 surgeries procedures between the ages of six months and 17 years old – and, after undergoing surgery on his legs to increase movement in his joints, he found he was no longer able to ride a skateboard in that style.
Patuelli credits a friend for then introducing him to breakdancing, which has changed his life. While he was unable to do the fancy footwork of some “b-boys” and girls, Patuelli found his upper body strength gave him an advantage when it came to the many balance- and spin-oriented moves used in breakdancing. He worked up the courage to put his moves on display, and was soon given the moniker “Lazylegz.”
By not being afraid to test his limits, today Patuelli is able to drive, rock climb, horseback ride, surf and ski, he told the assembled student body in DCVI’s large gym, in between showing off some of his dance skills. This year, he said he intends to keep working at improving his footwork and his ability to walk without crutches.
DCVI Inclusion team member Jensen Dundas and team leader Bailey Wiffen introduced Patuelli, after first debuting a powerful video the team had produced. The video featured teachers and students speaking on the importance of making sure everyone is given the same opportunity to reach their potential, and included regardless of their differences. It can be viewed on YouTube by searching “@DCVIInclusion.”
To that end, the Inclusion team has started a 30-day challenge during which they are encouraging members of the community to share their own messages of positivity and inclusion. Take part on Twitter by tweeting at and following @DCVIInclusion.