Talented deaf young people gather in Birmingham to show off performance skills
A group of deaf young people from across the UK showed off their talents in music, dance and drama at a performance in Birmingham last week.
The 20 deaf young stars performed on stage at the Ruddock Performing Arts Centre after a weekend of intensive mentoring from leading deaf performance companies Music and the Deaf, Deaf Men Dancing and Deafinitely Theatre.
Among the highlights of the show were virtuoso performances of music from Cats and Handel’s Zadok the Priest, dancers strutting their stuff to Uptown Funk and I Believe, and an acting performance based on the theme ‘Pause – Fast Forward – Rewind’.
The showcase, which took place for the fifth consecutive year, was the culmination of the National Deaf Children’s Society’s ‘Raising the Bar’ event and was designed to inspire deaf young people and show there is nothing in the arts that deaf children can’t achieve with the right support.
The 20 deaf young people, ranging in age from 8 to 16, were selected after an application process that saw them submit videos of their talents in music, dance and drama, demonstrating the skills they had acquired, their personal journeys and the barriers they had overcome.
Damian Ball of the National Deaf Children’s Society, said:
“It filled me with pride to watch the incredible talents on display here – what a wonderful evening filled with truly memorable performances!
“It was great to see so many deaf young people showing their families, friends and each other exactly what can be achieved in life with a bit of belief, drive and dedication.
“So often I hear people think deaf people can’t achieve in life – but this couldn’t be further from the truth. This weekend demonstrated so clearly that with the right support, deaf young people can aim for the stars and prove the doubters wrong.”
This year the Raising the Bar project, and the work it is doing to inspire deaf young people to have careers in the arts, caught the attention of Hollywood. Deaf Hollywood actress Millicent Simmonds, star of A Quiet Place and who is currently filming the sequel had a message for each of the participants. Millicent said:
“I’m honoured to support the Raising the Bar event. When I was growing up I never saw deaf actors in movies or on TV. I never thought it was a possibility for me.
“I feel it’s important for kids to feel represented and see people like them on screen. If deaf kids can see me on screen and feel like they can do it, that makes me happy, but that goes for any career. Not just acting. Focus on your path. Don’t make comparisons because progress looks different for everyone and enjoy in others’ success as well as your own.”