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+!

Via: AJ+ 1

Check out more of Shaheem’s work on his Instagram or Facebook! I also suggest you go take a look at ASL INC. where he’s highlighting dancers finding creative ways to combine ASL and dance.

Learn more about the Conspiracy of Goodness happening around the world by clicking here!

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:

14 minutes

Bringing Music Into the Visual World

How do you bring the energy of a song to the audience when it's interpreted into American Sign Language (ASL)? Amber Galloway Gallego is an innovator passionately working to not only interpret lyrics but the emotions and instruments that give them life.

Read More

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?

5 minutes

DeafSpace: How Inclusive Design Changes Our Lives

Often we don't think about how tiny design details affect our daily lives. DeafSpace is a new way of designing a world that works optimally for everyone! And once again, inclusive collaboration brings us all forward in a leap!

Read More

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”.

26 minutes

Christine Sun Kim, Redefining Sound

Christine Sun Kim creates in the world of sound and shows us how we can too! She is helping us to redefine what sound means through her own experience as a deaf artist.

Read More

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!

-Liesl

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!

Dance on EWC

Notes:

  1. “How Do Deaf People Experience Music? | AJ+.” YouTube, AJ+, 27 Nov. 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwqSuvFzDdI. Accessed 19 Feb. 2019.
  2. “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.

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

COO of Ever Widening Circles, Founder of EWCed

Liesl is a camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often floundering—outdoor enthusiast. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV