Dancers with Disabilites Crossing Cultural Bounderies

Waterfall number

A classic Busby Berkeley dance number

I’ve been a Busby Berkeley fan for as long as I can remember.  I love the old musicals anyway, but Berkeley’s kaleidoscope choreography was exceptionally magical.  When I saw this clip of Chinese dancers I was struck by the similarity.  Two vastly different cultures with the same artistic concept.

The first clip is the Chinese “Thousand Hands” dance.  This performance is all the more amazing because the dancers are all deaf or hearing impaired.  When I was studying American sign language, I hung out with the deaf comunity so I could practice.  I was surprised to learn that dancing is popular amoung deaf people.  They turn up the music loud enough to feel the bass pounding a rhythm in the floor.  These dancers are taking their cues from a woman who is conducting the dance.  I don’t think hearing dancers would do it any differently!

The second is a Busby Berkeley inspired number from the Burlesque era.  I included it because it’s concept is closer to the Thousand Hands idea.

The third clip is a classic Busby Berkeley number to give you an idea of where the inspiration for the burlesque number came from.  Enjoy!

Thousand Hands: 

Busby Inspired Burlesque: 

Busby Berkeley number: 

By LaurieAnn Lepoff

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