Deaf Dance Crew Choreography GETLIVE YouTube

The Deaf Dance Crew Choreography GETLIVE project was an informal, private dance class, taught by Stephanie Strugar of Difinity Dance, with the opportunity to perform at class's end on a live YouTube stream.

Deaf Dance Crew Choreography GETLIVE was a pilot project. MCSD worked with Arts AccessAbility Network Manitoba (AANM) to provide Difinity Dance the support they needed to make this project happen.

Difinity’s goal was to engage the hearing community as allies and get them more involved with the Deaf community by booking Deaf performance artists.

This project was developed by the choreographer through consultation with various organizations who support Deaf artists. The choreographer's goals were:

  1. Creating empowering professional dance opportunities for Deaf performers
  2. Promoting dignity, ability, and potential of deaf performers
  3. Promoting ASL as an official language
  4. Removing stigma and barriers deaf performers face in the performance industry.

Difinity found there were no consistent opportunities for these Deaf performers to engage in theatre, film, and TV. As a person with an invisible disability, Difinity's Stephanie Strugar understood the barriers and challenges disabled persons face.

MCSD's goals were to see if working with a hearing dance teacher to teach Deaf dance students was feasible, with an eye to possible future development of a dance program featuring ASL Interpreters.

Volunteer ASL Interpreters were present to translate communication between the choreographer and the Deaf dancers for the duration of the project.

Deaf dancers learned choreography to a number of hip-hop songs that promoted positivity, empowerment, inclusivity, and cultural appreciation. The Deaf dancers were named the DEF.UP Dance Crew.

The four Deaf dancers who were accepted for the project spent five one-hour dance sessions learning dance choreography, then performed for YouTube during the sixth session.

The dancers' hair and makeup was professionally done on the day of filming thanks to partnerships with ArtWithSas, as well as other production artists and technicians from Manitoba. A videographer from Video Pool was hired to record the event for YouTube. A Deaf photographer was hired to document filming day. A CBC film crew came out that day to report on the project.

The choreographer donated her time and money for the project; the Bethania Group donated the use of the Forrest Nickerson Theatre at Deaf Centre Manitoba; ASL interpreting students volunteered their time to interpret throughout the project. A professional ASL interpreter was hired for the filming day. The Deaf dancers paid a fee to participate. CBC paid for the ASL-English interpreter for their TV interview.

The five-minute video was released on The International Day for Persons with Disabilities. Several news outlets covered the project.

News Coverage

Posters, vlogs, and t-shirt sales for the project were all posted on social media.

Through this project, we learned what hearing (ie, non-deaf) teaching practices most negatively impact Deaf dancers. MCSD realized that more is required than ASL-English interpreters; there need to be other supports in place for Deaf dancers. This pilot project was the catalyst for MCSD’s project A New Rhythm: Teaching Beyond Sound, which seeks to create some of these needed supports.