Deaf Dancing

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As ABC’s new season of Dancing with the Stars gets ready to start, one of the most interesting stars will be appearing. Marlee Matlin, a famous deaf actress will be completing. With her appearance on the show, I started to think about how deaf people dance without hearing the music.

Many of the hearing population would just think it is through vibrations from the music. That is indeed correct, but there are many other ways in which deaf people can learn how to dance. There are varying degrees of deafness, some people can be able to notice the frequencies, depending on how high or low they are. Others can notice the bass and tremble tones, most commonly the bass tones (Dance). The vibrations from the music seem like they can be much, so some deaf people put the speakers face down on the floor to make the ground shake a little from the vibrations (James).

Aside from feeling the vibrations there are a few other things that the dances do to make their movements precise. Many of the dancers have to spend hours of time practicing the dances to make them remember the steps. Another way that deaf people learn to dance is to count one, two and three by signing the numbers, while hearing people would count orally. To illustrate rhythm a drum is used to indicate the pace of the music. “Often a deaf dancer will use his or her eyes to watch and follow the movement of a fellow dancer who may be able to hear and follow the music.”(Dance) Another key strategy for deaf people is to be visually alert, they have to be to see the signs, but now all they have to do is to watch the person in front of them or the hearing person.

Naomi Benari addresses a commonly asked question in Inner Rhythm: Dance Training for the Deaf; she answered why teach deaf people to dance? This was a question that I had at the beginning of my research as well, but Benari answers that question quite well. Benari contrasts music to dance, “like music, good dance has a pulse, a rhythm, [and] a breath of...
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