“Dance has the ability and power to transcend language barriers” says Anna Seymour in an interview with Frankie magazine September 2016, see also http://sprung.org.au/artists/anna-seymour/
Anna Seymour, Contemporary Dancer (Deaf) from Melbourne (member of dance quartet The Delta Project), and Michael Hennessy, Sprung!! Artistic Director (Hearing) coordinated a pilot deaf-inclusive dance theatre workshop from 10-13th April, exploring themes of “Home” and “Silence” among others. What would the sound of jeans ripping look like? A tennis ball being ‘thwacked’? A crooning saxophone? A bee humming? Anna invited us to dance “sounds” as though we were describing them with our bodies for a deaf audience. We also explored the beauty of Auslan as “poetry-in-motion” and experienced a truly bilingual atmosphere, “hearing” the ideas and thoughts of deaf participants rather than just enabling their passive comprehension, which is the usual extent of deaf integration.
The workshop involved dance theatre, movement exploration, improvisation tasks, and creating choreography. It was an immense success, and plans have been made to extend the project over three years, with a summative performance in 2019. The 2018 is provisionally scheduled for 9-13 April.
Deaf Society NSW CEO Leonie Jackson: “The final show was absolutely outstanding and inclusive of everyone”,
Ability Links Project Officer Sigrid MacDonald: “This opportunity for Northern Rivers to have a professional deaf dancer leading a workshop is amazing and so inspiring”
Deaf participant “I definitely want to come again next year”
Anna Seymour: “I cannot stress enough the importance of workshops like this. Deaf people and people with disabilities often are denied access to dance workshops. They are often excluded from opportunities to interact with professional artists. Having workshops such as “Dancing Stories” for people who are typically marginalised is so important for them to access and participate in art and dance in their native language – Auslan, or at a pace that allows people to process information and for them to feel safe to be themselves. These workshops aim to create a sense of possibility, build confidence, meet new people, learn new things for the participants AND also educate society about Deafness and disability – to shift perspectives and to increase awareness. More awareness equals less ignorance and discrimination”.
Photograph by Robyn Brady