The undoubted darling of this year’s Strictly Come Dancing, Rose Ayling-Ellis, captured the nation’s hearts with that incredible moment on last week’s show when she and pro partner Giovanni Pernice danced in silence for 10 seconds.
Of course, in silence is how she hears every dance, because she is profoundly deaf – a state that she doesn’t ever let hold her back. In fact, she says she loves being deaf.
“I love that if there’s a thunderstorm, then I can sleep through the night while everyone else is awake,” she told Bryony Gordon in The Telegraph. “I love that if I have a headache and there’s lots of noise around me, I can just switch off my hearing aid so it’s nice and quiet.”
The EastEnders actress continued: “I love that being deaf gives you a different perception of life. It makes you more empathetic. I love being deaf because I’ve got sign language, which is beautiful. Oh, the list is so long!
“But mostly I love being deaf because I don’t have to listen to Giovanni!”
Rose and Giovanni made history by scoring a perfect 40 for their tango at the earliest ever stage of Strictly but people are incorrect in thinking she keeps in time feeling vibrations from the music. She can’t hear anything and relies on counting time and muscle memory to keep in a dance’s rhythm – an incredibly difficult feat.
“I don’t put my hand on a speaker and go, ‘I can feel everything!’” she explained.
The audience have been asked not to clap during her routines and Giovanni explained just how difficult her task on Strictly is.
Teaching Rose has been “the most rewarding thing that I’ve done as a dancer,” he said. “She has to work three times, four times, as hard as everybody else. She is working three times harder than me. She is counting, she is thinking about technique, and she is also thinking about the performance. But sometimes because she’s dancing beautifully, people forget that.”
Rose has loved the opportunity to represent the deaf community on the BBC One celebrity show, perhaps even be a role model for deaf children, and to highlight the importance of British Sign Language (BSL). Remember that signed argument she had with Giovanni early in the series?
Rose said: “A hearing child gets spoken language all the time, but a deaf child who has never been taught sign language won’t understand speech, which is not natural. It means it is much harder to get language in your head. It delays a lot of deaf children later in life. They can’t communicate feelings or what they want. It becomes self-isolating. It’s awful.”
She campaigns to get BSL recognised as an official language and wants every deaf person to have the opportunity to learn it, to be able to live a fuller life.
“It’s got its own structure, its own grammar,” she said. “We’ve tried for years to get it taught in schools. It would be amazing because everyone would be included. A couple of months ago I went to a party and I met this deaf and blind man, but I could communicate with him through BSL, because he would hold my hand while I was signing to him then sign back…
“Why can’t everyone learn it?”
Watch Rose and Giovanni dance a Quickstep to Love Is An Open Door from Frozen on Strictly Come Dancing, BBC One, Saturday Nov 20 at 6.35pm.
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