I got to sit down with Simone Botha Welgemoed, a Cape Town based professional ballet dancer. She’s not just that, she’s also deaf. Listen below to hear what it’s like to be a deaf dancer. She’s such an inspiration!
“It’s not that I can’t hear the music playing, I can hear the music playing, but it’s the finer details in the music like the nuances and when to start counting. So if there’s a beat then I can hear there’s a very nice beat to it, but I wouldn’t exactly know when to start counting five, six, seven, eight. So for that I always need someone, a teacher or a dancing partner or friend to assist me. So if I do a solo then I always have someone hiding in the corner behind the curtain showing me, okay, that’s when you have to start, or when I’m dancing in a group situation and I’m right in front, my eyes are working very hard. So I can basically say that my eyes are my ears, and the dancers that I dance with are very supportive of me and know that I can’t hear the music so they’ve got to be in time with the music so I can be in time with the music!
And when it comes to pas de deux work, then my partner is in total control of the music, so I completely rely on him. So of course, you know, as you rehearse a piece over and over and over, you get a sense of the rhythm. But the dance is going to be set at, but sometimes you dance with an orchestra, and they play a little faster or a bit slower, and then somebody like me, alone, would be a bit screwed, not knowing whether I should be picking up or not. So that’s what I have my dance partner for. He’ll touch me to start, or it might be a look in the eye, or…it’s just, I’m very sensitive to these movements to know, okay, I can feel we’re moving a bit faster or slower. So that’s how I try and cope with being hearing impaired and trying to find other ways to cope without being able to hear the music.”
Thanks so much Simone! Your work is amazing!