Deafness has long been interpreted, incorrectly, as total silence. As such, Deafness and music are also wrongly seen as things which are incompatible with one another. Everyday language such as “tone deaf” doesn’t help, nor does a lack of representation when it comes to deaf people in music and dance. However, Rose Ayling-Ellis may be about to challenge misconceptions on a major scale, as the first deaf contestant on Strictly Come Dancing.
Ayling-Ellis, who plays Frankie Lewis in EastEnders, has said that appearing on the show is: “exciting and a little bit scary … I hope I will do the deaf community proud and break down more barriers.”
One of those barriers is the idea that music – and indeed, dance – is just about sound. Deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie, who plays the drums by sensing the vibrations, famously dispels that myth. As do I, by using timing and rhythm to guide me when I play instruments. In the world of dance, Chris Fonseca wowed the judges on BBC’s The Greatest Dancer, before going on to choreograph a group of deaf and hard of hearing dancers for a music video. Deaf people can do anything. And yet there [...]