A group of Troy University dance students recently traveled to the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind expecting to teach others. In the process, however, they came away with a new appreciation for the power of their art.
World-renowned dancer, choreographer and TROY visiting professor Adria Ferrali recently joined a group of dance students in a trip to the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind for a workshop.
Ferrali taught a master class focused on movement, and the TROY students experienced a tour of the institute before meeting with AIDB students.
Ferrali and the TROY dancers introduced the AIDB students to basic movements while theatre students and Tori Lee Averett, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, accompanied the movements with various instruments.
Judy Robertson, director of the interpreter training program, interpreted for the dancers along with the help of the AIDB faculty and staff.
“TROY students did not know quite what to expect when we arrived at the Alabama School for the Deaf, but it took them no time to warm to these wonderful students, who were so warm to them and eager to experience dance and music,” said Deborah Hicks, coordinator of dance. “I was proud of our students because they opened themselves eagerly to this opportunity, and I watched them blossom while working with others whom they thought upon beginning to be very different from themselves but whom they found not to be very different at all, only younger.”
The TROY students who participated said they’ll never forget the experience.
“My experience at AIDB was very inspirational,” said Alexus Crooms, a junior dance major. “The students I got to work with were so inviting and wanted to learn about the thing that I am most passionate about. Dance is something that can bring people together, and what was so awesome was that they did not let their disabilities stop them from excelling. Working with them was so fulfilling I would honestly do it again in a heartbeat.”
Payton Buchin, a senior theatre education major, described the experience as revelatory.
“Getting to work with those students was an amazing experience to say the least,” Buchin said. “It’s incredible how eye opening it is to see that the arts can be universally taught and enjoyed despite physical impairments. For my peers and me to get the opportunity to share our passion with a group young people for whom this workshop content was new and somewhat unfamiliar, and for these young people to take part in our love of the arts, was truly one of the most rewarding experiences of my education.”
Junior dance major Carly Smith found herself feeling humbled afterward.
“My time at AIDB was surreal and humbling,” she said. “We often forget how much we have and how much we take for granted. Seeing individuals fully engaged and learning even though they are not able to see or hear was something special to see. The atmosphere was fun and the students were so excited to do something new. My time at AIDB confirmed that I’m on the right track in school and made me even more excited to become a dance therapist.”
Hicks said the AIDB students adjusted quicker than anticipated, and one of the deaf students told her he plans to attend TROY and study dance.
“To have an opportunity to visit this school and interact with the students was absolutely a dream come true, to see their eyes light up when realizing that there are hearing people outside of AIDB who know sign language or that there are hearing people who have taken an interest in their culture,” said Stephanie Bouyer, a senior theatre major who has studied sign language. “Our presence there was an inspiration to those students. I feel that our presence has proven to some of these students that the sky is the limit.”