A New Rhythm: Teaching Beyond Sound

A New Rhythm is a series of training videos for non-deaf dance teachers. The videos instruct the teachers on how to teach Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) students, with full consideration for the students' physical, linguistic and cultural expectations. Class content and teaching strategies were developed into captioned video manuals to be shared online.

Project Overview

A New Rhythm gives a new perspective on dance, focusing on how DHH dancers experience their art form. It takes into account the relationship a DHH dancer has with rhythm, vibration and dance. The videos explore this relationship and show non-deaf dance teachers what strategies work best when teaching dance to DHH students.

MCSD partnered with Dance Manitoba (DM) on this project from start to finish. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) offered their studio as an in-kind donation for use in the rehearsal and filming portions of the project.

MCSD prioritizes hiring Deaf collaborators in all projects. A Deaf videographer and photographer documented the process along with As It Happened Productions (AIHP), a professional media company. Beyond providing employment, the Deaf videographer was mentored by AIHP. This arrangement benefitted all parties; AIHP learned more about best practices in capturing Deaf events, and the Deaf videographer increased their skill set to better capture dance on film.

Phase 1: Research and Introduction, completed June 4, 2020

A “sizzle reel” was created, highlighting the dance experiences of DHH and non-deaf dancers, and the barriers DHH dancers face. This video included interviews with Deaf individuals to discover the specific tools and strategies they use to learn movement. The three minute "sizzle reel" (based on surveys and interviews) went online. The video served to promote the project as it continued into its future phases.

Phase 2: Content Development, completed July 21, 2020

DM and the Technical Integration Assistant (TIA) researched existing Deaf dance programs online, along with other resources, to develop methods to assist and enhance the learning process for DHH dancers with consideration to Deaf Culture.

DM collaborated with the TIA in the research. Together they developed interview questions for the interview panel.

The original plan was to film an in-person panel discussion, moderated by Dance Manitoba, on March 20, 2020. However, plans changed due to the pandemic, and the panel discussion was restructured and filmed on Zoom instead. During a 10-day period in July 2020, DHH dancers engaged in conversation about their experiences and passion for dance. Using the panel interviews, along with ongoing research into best practices, the project further honed teaching strategies for instructing DHH dancers. Using these strategies and the DHH dancers self-recorded auditions, the project’s dance teachers each created a lesson plan for a beginner-level class in Jazz, Hip-Hop and Contemporary.

DM worked with RWB to develop dance audition movements and to provide guidance for the dance auditions. DM and RWB also worked together to assess the skill levels of the dancers. Nicole Kepp of the RWB recorded each of the movements, and this recording was sent to the DHH dancers. The DHH dancers recorded themselves using the dance movement provided, and sent their recordings to the RWB and DM for assessment.

Phase 3: Capturing Content, completed Aug 2, 2020

The initial plan had one class of DHH dancers attending classes in one studio. Covid-19 restrictions required to the plan: the single class was split into five classes, including non-deaf students to allow for comparison footage. There were two classes each for Contemporary and Jazz, one class of each for DHH and another for non-deaf students. The single Hip Hop class differed: it included a mix of Deaf dancers and non-deaf dancers.

Phase 4: Content Editing, completed December 2021

The videos’ contents were extracted, compiled, and edited into a series of instructional videos for dance teachers. These videos demonstrate teaching strategies for use when working with DHH dancers, along with information about how to implement these strategies.

MCSD-DAM completed the ASL-to-English/French translations and adding captions to the videos. J R Language Translation Services Inc. and Art One Translations translated the English videos into French Captioning.

The Deaf videographer had the role of a Deaf Culture Consultant to the AIHP editing team to ensure the final product is respectful to Deaf Culture.

Phase 5: Video Launch: December 2021

The videos launched on MCSD-DAM and Dance Manitoba’s websites at no cost to the viewer. A social media blitz promotes and share the videos with dance schools across Canada.


The Videos - ENGLISH Captioned

Les vidéos : Sous-titres français


Leo Salgado is the Official Photographer for this project and the majority of the photos in the photo gallery were taken by him. Some were taken by Alice Crawford, Project Director.

Photo Gallery