Lead and Follow Without Sound

I had a really interesting experience last night, dancing with a deaf follow. I didn’t realize it right away, but she didn’t respond when I offered my name or respond to my conversation at all. And then I realized in open position, she was getting ahead of the beat. I experimented a bit with loosening and firming my left-to-right connection but wasn’t able to transmit the beat to her as effectively as when we were in closed and I could use my right hand and forearm (I suppose I don’t actually have any idea what her level of hearing loss actually is, or how well she could feel the beat in open; I just know when she was on and off the beat).

I’d like to experiment in the future with lead and follow classes where the lead hears the music through earbuds while the follow has ear plugs. How effective do you think you’d be at staying on beat with these limitations?

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5 thoughts on “Lead and Follow Without Sound”

  1. I’ve been thinking about doing something like this for a long time, as a crazy jack and jill idea even, but haven’t yet tried it.

    But it should work. On classes you see sometimes the teachers showing you the moves without music, sometimes without chanting the numbers or move-sounds, sometimes changing the speed of the move while moving. And it works.

    If it doesn’t then leads should exaggerate their bounce, follows shouldn’t try to guess the right speed, but follow the leader’s bounce, and both should be relaxed, as tension diminished the capacity to communicate through the arm (without arm-leading).

  2. I’d read an interview of a lindy hopper that is deaf some time ago.. Will try to find it and will send you the link since it was really interesting.. He would try to get the beat from the vibrations he felt…

  3. Its funny what losing a sense does to a person and how they function without it. wouldn’t it be a cool experiment to have a class on senses? Learning or experimenting with no sight to guild us or hearing to move us.

  4. Hey John!

    This is an interesting idea that I’m intrigued to try out. Also, I got some questions to ask you, but the email you provided did not work out when I tried to send it to you. Mind giving me another email? (John.white@john-refactured.com didn’t work…)

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