Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Washington Post Express spotlights Gallaudet Dance Company

Gallaudet Dance Company

I hope that what I predicted yesterday is coming true -- that with Marlee Matlin's appearance on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" beginning March 17, the media will remember to cover the deaf community a bit more.

The Washington Post Express did a profile on March 18 of the Gallaudet University Dance Company in Washington, D.C.

The 11-member company performs American Sign Language (ASL) influenced dance. Company director Diane Hottendorf explains in The Express that ASL uses body movements and facial expression, which are incorporated into the dance. "Dance allows them to elevate that form to an artistic level — even if they're interpreting in utter silence," according to the article.

The last two words of the sentence are incorrect because most deaf people have a huge range of hearing abilities from profoundly deaf like Marlee Matlin to hard of hearing in which hearing aids can allow someone to hear most sounds. Matlin said in an interview that she has new high-powered digital hearing aids so she does hear many of the tones in a musical number.

The dancers with the most hearing loss focus on the choreography and the counts. The Gallaudet troupe hope Matlin's appearance will teach the world not to underestimate what deaf people can do.

Erin Ginn, 23, of the company says she "hopes Matlin's mambos can change that for other deaf dancers. 'Finally we see a deaf person in that setting. They'll see that one deaf person can do it. She'll be a role model,' she signs."