A dancing interpreter for the deaf is winning hearts across the internet with his heartfelt signing of musicians. It’s a great example of how to interpret music for those who can’t hear it. He is so fun to watch because he dances as he signs, his body movements feeling the music as his hands interpret the words.
A few decades ago I studied American Sign Language because I had a deaf friend and occasional deaf students in my self defense classes for people with physical disabilities. I never got fluent enough to sign for my students or converse with ease with my friend, but I spent a lot of time with the deaf community in order to practice. They all thought I had recently lost my hearing because I was such a novice at signing.
Dancing is popular among the deaf, but I never attended any dances because the music was too loud for my sensitive hearing. They crank it up so they can feel the bass through the floor and find the rhythm.
Feeling the rhythm section to get the beat is not the same as understanding music, however. When the interpreter moves to music as he signs, the nuance of the music comes through. I’ve seen this before in some of the best interpreters and wonder how much of the music comes through this way.
When I watch without the sound, it’s definitely not enough. But when the beat is added, the baseline that can be felt if not heard, the dance makes sense. It may be impossible to really express the idea of music to those without hearing, but this combination of dance and signing comes as close at it can.
by LaurieAnn Lepoff
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