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How does a deaf person dance?

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

We have recently come across the exciting news of Rose Ayling Ellis, known for portraying the role of Frankie Lewis in the BBC series EastEnders, has been added to the line-up of Strictly Come Dancing 2021, becoming the first deaf contestant to take part.

On one hand, this very inspiring for deaf young people and can only be a good thing, as more deaf representation in mainstream media is so very important to raise deaf awareness and will help to end the common myth that deaf people can't enjoy music.

On the other hand, now is when the following question starts to resonate on social media: Can a deaf person dance?

Well, it will be added to the list of judgement questions from those who see deaf or hard of hearing people to have compromised ability due their deafness or hearing loss. Read our blog post about Audism here.

We would like to stress the fact that deaf people can do anything with the right support, and also, with passion and determination, like any other life achievement! These are common goals in both the hearing and deaf worlds.

So, if you are wondering how deaf people experience music or how can they dance, keep reading.

It is well known that a lack of one sense (in this case hearing) improves/raises the others. Read our article about what happens when you lose the ability to hear here.

In this case, through vibrations, deaf people can experience or perceive music on an enhanced level, as the lack of their hearing sense, makes their other senses work together to make up for the loss of hearing.

Here’s a quick video of a person who is deaf explaining how she experiences music:

Listening to music involves more than just ears.

The other senses help to fill in the experience of enjoying music.

Deaf people can sense vibrations in the same part of the brain that others use for hearing, that means that the experience deaf people have when 'feeling' music is similar to the experience other people have when hearing music.

Deaf people internalise the beat/rhythm of the song in the core of their body, and then, they dance! It is called to "feel" the music 💜

UPDATE: Watch Rose Ayling-Ellis dancing at BBC Strictly:

Would you like to experience music like a deaf/hoh person? Try the following tips:

  • First of all close your eyes. You will raise your other senses.

  • Shoes off! Bare feet will help to absob the vibrations through the floor.

  • Use a ballon. It will amplify vibrations in higher intensity.

  • Find a large speaker and stay close. The amplified vibrations will help you enjoy the music.

Did you enjoy the beat?

Now that you understand how deaf people perceive the music, you will easily understand that with practice (and good rhythm!), they can dance.

We wish Rose the very best of luck on Strictly Come Dancing! She is already a winner in our eyes!


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