In the latest season of Dancing With the Stars, deaf model Nyle DiMarco became an inspiration to many when he and his partner Peta Murgatroyd, won the Mirrorball trophy.
At one point in the competition, DiMarco, who was born deaf, brought the judges and audience to tears by performing in complete silence.
This was to give the audience a feel of what it was like for a deaf dancer.
DiMarco wasn’t the only deaf competitor on the reality dance show.
In the show's sixth season in 2008, Marlee Matlin competed with her partner Fabian Sanchez, but they were the sixth couple to be eliminated from the competition.
Matlin said in the past she decided to participate in the competition because it was outside her comfort zone.
Dance is art
Dance is an art all in its self, with a large part of a dancer’s world being music. However, for deaf dancers that’s a misconception.
With many forms of dance throughout the world, it’s hard to keep both feet on the floor.
Depending on the type of dance, there might be jumping, leaping, twisting and turning in accordance to the sound of the beat.
The question that arises is, how can the deaf dance without hearing the sound of music?
Although the music isn’t heard, its felt through vibrations on the floor or having professionals practice the moves for hours along with having specific cues, such as on Dancing With the Stars.
Chris Fonseca is a deaf dance instructor who teaches both the deaf and non-deaf.
The graphic designer is also a freelance dancer who appears in music videos and TV adverts.
Unlike DiMarco, Fonseca became deaf after being diagnosed with meningitis as a child.
He’s deaf in both ears and wears a cochlear implant.
Mark Villaver is a hearing professional dancer, but his mother Emilia is deaf and loves to dance.
Villaver has performed with stars like Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift, but nothing beats dancing with his mom and her excitement for dance.
Countries around the world are slowly opening up to accommodating deaf dancers.
An increase in interest has also seen more dance academies catering for the deaf while others are opening up specialised deaf dance academies.
Deaf dancers are able to socialise, gain physical body awareness and emotional gratification through dance.
Authors: Seyda Aci