Daily Prompt: Musical / Role of Music on a Deaf DancerJanuary 27, 2013
I am not a musical person but I love music. However, I am more of a visual person so I see music in rhythms of lines, geometry in buildings, patterns of shapes…on designs of leaves and flowers. With or without music therefore, I “see” music somehow. That’s probably one of the reasons why I enjoy being with Deaf persons. When I started learning sign language, I have first of all learned how to put off the sounds — whether music or simply noise that enter my ear from the surroundings especially when I talk to them. That’s something I found quite necessary to be able to “listen” to their talking hands. I had to focus on their hands and visual expressions to be able to understand what they are saying. Without practice, signing is just like any other spoken language. In fact, I am still not adept to it. I need to exert a lot of effort to be able to communicate with them. It is quite a challenging but enjoyable task to do.
Instead therefore of writing about the role of music in myself, it would be more interesting I believe to share with you the role of music in a Deaf dancer named CJ Patriarca whom I interviewed for my documentary entitled “Silent Odyssey.” It amazed me to know that to be able to express in dance a certain feeling, she had to “listen” to the music by feeling the vibration of the music beats. She puts her ear against the music player or on the floor to “listen’ and/or touches them first to feel the beat to be able to study the rhythm — is it slow / sad? fast or happy? Feeling the rhythm guides her; she starts counting the beats and from there interprets and then performs the dance with a very talented Deaf choreographer. However, I had asked for a reversal of what they used to do. Instead of “hearing” / feeling the music first before the dance interpretation, I asked them to interpret the idea first — i.e. the feeling of isolation and Deaf discrimination that I needed for the docu. After that, I called in the music scorer. He studied their movements, measured its length, then scored the music based on the mood of their interpretation. It had worked. The film is official entry in the upcoming 3rd Hongkong International Deaf Film Festival to be held between February 22-24, 2013 at the HongKong Arts Centre.
I have witnessed the role of sound and music on the members of the Silent Steps, an all-Deaf dance student playgroup from DLS-CSB School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies where CJ used to be a member, the school where I studied Filipino Sign Language.