How a hip hop class helps deaf and hard of hearing youth connect

Deaf Crows Collective in Regina says it's important people have access to a 'deaf space.'

Jeremy Simes

December 1, 2021
The hip hop class / Deaf Crows Collective Photo

It hasn’t been easy for people who are deaf and hard of hearing to find an accessible dance space in Regina.  

That’s why Deaf Crows Collective started a hip hop class in the city, helping deaf and hard of hearing individuals perform and connect.

“It’s important to have a ‘deaf space’ where participants have a commonality and freedom to express themselves and embrace their identities,” explained Joanne Weber, the artistic director with the collective.

The hip hop group began in January 2020, but because of COVID-19, they were put on hiatus until this past October.

The group meets every Friday at Knox Metropolitan Church and will be performing in February at On Cue Performance Hub's season opener.

The classes are led by hearing dance instructor Tessa Kuz. The goal is to help participants celebrate deaf culture, encourage self-expression and foster relationships between hearing and deaf communities.

“The best part of our learning process is that every participant brings their all to every session,” Weber said. “We have a safe space where everyone is equal and respected.”

Weber explained barriers often exist for deaf and hard of hearing individuals. This includes paying out of pocket to access American Sign Language interpreters.

The collective’s classes include ASL interpretation. They try to focus on visual experiences and play different kinds of music or instruments to help everyone find and keep a beat. Mirrors are used so everyone can access the information.

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