Deaf Dance

Imagine feeling music instead of hearing it. Imagine knowing each beat, each quarter note, each word without ever hearing a sound (Griver). Could you dance in time, in rhythm to a song if you've never heard it? The thought seems nearly impossible for those who have their hearing. I have most of my hearing and I could never do any of this. I blame it on an inner ear problem that affects my balance, but I truly think that some people are gifted in various arts. There are people out there that were meant to dance, as luck would have it, they ended up deaf, but they were still meant to dance.

In the early years, an interpreter was provided for signed translation of music during school productions. Later, a song was requested which did not lend itself to a sign language interpretation (Johnson). Instead, it was danced, and a new art form was born. Inspired by a vision of integration between deaf and hearing cultures, it uses visual language, the basis of deaf culture, and fuses that with expressive dance and live music (The Company).

Almost every School for the Deaf has a dance program. The only ones that don't are only because of budget dilemmas. Gallaudet University is the most famous of deaf institutions. The story of Gallaudet Dance Company begins in 1955 when Dr. Peter Wisher, a professor in the Department of Physical Education, observed a student signing "The Lord's Prayer  during a campus ceremony. Impressed by the beauty and movement of the signs, he saw the possibility of using signs as a foundation for dance movement. He invited interested students to a meeting to explore this possibility. At first, this was not a performing company but rather a recreational activity. Students got together two or three times a week for an hour of fun and social enjoyment. Word of the club spread, and the group began to be asked to perform--- both on and off campus (Hottendorf).

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