image sourced from BBC News, Ouch http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-ouch-29324932 

Back in May this year at Bournemouth I witnessed some of Deaf Men Dancing's creative process as part of the Integrated Dance Summit with Pavilion Dance South West. I remember being disoriented by the sounds surrounding the dance space, noises that people with tinitus commonly hear. I felt like I was being drawn into a piece which was very personal on so many levels for the choreographer Mark Smith, in particular his childhood memories of his first hearing aid and experiencing that as a young child as well as the dancers in his company. His all-male ensemble of four professional dancers experience a variety of different levels in hearing loss which only amplifies the realism involved in creating their new work 'Hear! Hear!'  which will be performed at Sadler's Wells this evening (Sunday 28 September) as part of the =dance series. I can see a place and need for work on this level to be toured throughout the UK like so many other disabled dance artists too.

The show presents to the hearing audience the hidden or little-known aspects of deafness in a way Smith hopes that are able to relate in one way or another. It hopes to also give an audience another insight into the ways a disabled person can contribute to the dance sector. 

Mark Smith has a really interesting development in the dance sector. Mark who was diagnosed deaf at the age of four his first encounter with rhythm and dance was at his sister's ballet class. As he couldn't hear the music he established a rhythm from what he could feel instead. He copied the movements and was encouraged by the teacher to join the ballet class. He went on to study dance at degree level and has contributed to the dance sector as a choreographer for the past 20 years. He now takes those past experiences to use through teaching other deaf people how to dance. Smith would encourage his students to place their hand on a speak to experience the pulses coming from the audio source if a piano is not present in the studio. "The vibrations move through their arms and into their bodies," he says. And when the students move away from direct contact with the sound, they maintain contact with the rhythm via the vibrations in the wooden floor. "That's why we always dance barefoot," he adds. 

I would urge you to read more about Mark Smith over on his website, www.marksmithproduction.com.


thanks for reading,