Let's Dance

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Deaf students show how it's done

By Jenna McKenna

The last thing students expected at Bronson Middle High School last week was to be sung to and to dance with deaf students – but to their amazed delight, it was true. The touring dance class from Florida School for the Deaf and Blind visited BHS for a pair of lunchtime performances of Christmas standards, novelty pop songs from the 1950s and a 12-inch dance mix from one of the best dance groups of all time. Students with hearing impairments ranging from -40db to total deafness danced, signed and lip-synched to “Splish Splash,” “Love Potion Number 9,” “Let it Snow,” and Chic's “Everybody Dance.” More than once, the dancers darted into the enthralled audience to grab kids by the hand and drag them on stage. Some came willingly, others nervously, but once in the midst of the stomping, swirling crowd, the impulse to dance was irresistible. Two FSDB performers, seniors Connell Crooms and Carly Hurd, said they were very excited to have been placed in the class. Crooms says his hearing impairment is slight, and he can hear the music and rhythm well enough to dance without being conducted. “I've always loved music,” he said. “I've been dancing since I was six!” Hurd has a greater degree of hearing impairment, and relies on dance instructor Lia Ferrante's visual cues to stay on the beat, at least while she's learning the song. After that, she just memorizes the counts and follows along in her head. “I don't have any trouble keeping up,” she said. “It only takes me a couple of days to learn the songs.” Both Crooms and Hurd hope to continue in dance when they go to college. Crooms wants to learn tap, but Hurd, who spent nine years on FSDB's cheer squad, says she's interested in all kinds of dance. Ferrante said she is interested in bringing her group, which performs twice a month during the school year, to Chiefland High School for a performance. “We'd love to come over there,” she said.