Hearing-impaired dancer explains Matlin's ability

April 6, 2008 7:47:15 AM PDT
There are no limitations when it comes to dancing. ABC's Dancing with the Stars shows anyone can learn, including those who are hearing impaired.

Marlee Matlin's ability to wow the audiences with her movements has people wondering how she is able to do it as she is not able to hear the beat.

But as we learn, anything is possible.

The first dance Marlee did was the cha-cha. The next week she did the quickstep And this past week it was the jive

"I'm completely mesmerized by what she's been able to do. I don't think anyone expected her to be able to do so well" said 23-year-old Vicente Martinez, a professional dancer and instructor at Chicago's Fred Astaire Dance Studio.

Martinez has been dancing professionally for seven years and is also hearing impaired.

"I have a loss in my left ear mostly. I do have partial loss in my right ear. I do only wear a hearing aide in my left. I prefer to have it in my left ear only because I don't like to wear it in the right because of an unbalance in my hearing," he said.

Martinez says being able to follow music is essential.

"I mean, definitely the music helps you dance. It's like as if you were to learn to dance, I guess a sense of choreography or sense of step and then you haven't touched it in a year but all of a sudden you hear that song that you danced to, all of a sudden, that step comes to you naturally because of the music," he said.

Martinez and his dance partner, Jessica Wharton, have placed in several dance competitions. When Wharton first started dancing with Martinez, she noticed his hearing aid.

"It's easier for him to hear the entire song first or to catch the music to know, to kind of know the musicality first, it probably makes it easier but most of the time we're fine," she said. "And sometimes when his back is turned, he doesn't always hear us."

Wharton said she is so impressed with Marlee Matlin.

"She doesn't seem to be having any problems at all," Wharton said.

"I think the smooth dances are easier to follow because of the basic tempo, but in, like, rhythm, the beat changes. For instance, in rumba it's quick-quick-slow, quick-quick-slow, and that's a rhythm, or in cha-cha you count it out as 1-2-3-4 and 1-2-3.

And having a good partner helps.

"If he knows his movement and he knows his steps, then you should have no problem understanding without ever hearing," said Wahrton.

If you want to see Matlin and her partner dance, ABC's Dancing with Stars airs Monday and Tuesday nights. If you want to learn ballroom and Latin dances, Fred Astaire has a number of studios around the Chicago area. Visit http://fredastairechicago.com/. For more info on "Dancing with the Stars" visit abc.com.

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