Music and dance are such universal parts of the human experience. They are a fundamental to who we are. So, why is it that so many people assume the Deaf or hearing impaired community aren’t a part of these vibrant forms of expression?
Let us introduce you to Shaheem Sanchez. He is a dancer on a mission to change the way the world understands the relationship between dance and the Deaf community. His work illustrates that it’s not hearing the music that is so inspiring—music and dance are so much more than just what we can hear.
Though he has been deaf since the age of four, Shaheem has become a renowned dancer, teacher, and change maker.
With his own unique way of hearing and feeling the music, he is creating a movement that combines ASL (American Sign Language) with dance to bring the words and feeling of the song to life.
Let’s take a look at the way Shaheem Sanchez is helping us all understand and change how Deaf people experience music with this great piece from AJ+!
We’ve also written an article here at Ever Widening Circles featuring Amber Galloway Gallego, one of the ASL music interpreters featured in this video, before! She is one of the many awesome individuals at the forefront of combining ASL and music. If you haven’t yet, I recommend you give this article a look:
Here’s a really great film that dives a little deeper!
What do we miss when we don’t include more perspectives?
Shaheem’s work is a perfect example of what we miss when we overlook the unique perspectives that individuals with different life experiences bring to the table. These tapestries of experience help to elevate innovation for us all. They inspire breakthroughs that can, and do, improve our quality of life.
For instance, did you know that the Deaf community is also playing a fascinating role in improving the worlds of architecture and design to be more accessible?
Or, have you heard of Christine Sun Kim? She’s a sound artist who is deaf and whose work redefines what “sound” can mean. Her art makes you look at the world a little differently; making us question the soundscapes we are a part of and our own “sound etiquette”.
If we are limited by our assumptions of what people “can” and “can’t” do, we really miss out on the ways all kinds of thought leaders can improve our world.
Stay beautiful & keep laughing!
Looking for more in the world of dance?
We’ve been fortunate enough to profile many dancers and dance styles over the years. If you want to meet some of them check out our full dance library!
- “How Do Deaf People Experience Music? | AJ+.” YouTube, AJ+, 27 Nov. 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwqSuvFzDdI. Accessed 19 Feb. 2019. ↩
- “They Think Deaf People Aren’t Supposed Dance or Hear the Music. Watch @Shaheem Prove Them Wrong.” YouTube, Shaheem Sanchez, 8 Jan. 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHsw6o1p7_U. Accessed 22 Feb. 2019. ↩