At arts event for deaf teens, ‘Here, we are all the same’

At arts event for deaf teens, ‘Here, we are all the same’

FORT WORTH, Mar 27, 2010 (Fort Worth Star-Telegram – McClatchy-Tribune
Information Services via COMTEX) — An annual gathering for students who are
deaf or hard of hearing is like a family reunion, teens said.

Nearly 500 such students from across Texas are spending two days in Fort
Worth for workshops with artists, actors and dancers. Along the way, they
are rekindling friendships, meeting new people and hobnobbing with

The 20th annual event, which continues through today, is sponsored by
Imagination Celebration Fort Worth, a nonprofit organization that provides
art and cultural experiences to young people.

For the first time, all workshop presenters are deaf, as part of this year’s
Spotlight on Deaf Artists theme. On Friday, students attended workshops on
topics such as African dance, yoga and graphic art at Tarrant County
College’s Trinity River Campus.

In an acting class, deaf actress Deanne Bray showed students
behind-the-scenes footage from the TV show Sue Thomas F.B. Eye, on which she
had the title role.

Students moved rhythmically to drumbeats in a hip-hop dance class taught by
Fred Beam, co-founder of The Wild Zappers, a well-known deaf dance troupe.

Deaf youths can sometimes feel isolated at school or in their communities,
where they might have few deaf peers. So students said they look forward to
the annual event, where everyone can communicate. In between, they often
keep in contact via text messages, e-mail and video phones, teens said.

“We can have a hard time becoming involved because of the language barrier,”
said Rebekah Farley, 17, a junior at Western Hills High School in Fort
Worth. “Here, we are all the same. We become a family and become really
close.” It is important to expose deaf students to role models, especially
as arts programs are being reduced because of budget cuts, said Tyrone
Giordano, a deaf actor who has performed on Broadway, on television and in

“This is something I wish I had as a kid,” said Giordano, 33, of Los
Angeles. “I wish this weekend was longer. It is a series of activities, but
I sense the kids are starved for communication, conversation and guidance.”
A weekend highlight is a Friday evening dance.

“We bring huge speakers for the dance, subwoofers that magnify the sound of
the music for them,” said Ginger Head, Imagination Celebration executive
director. “It makes it vibrate.”

JESSAMY BROWN, 817-390-7326


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