‘Birds of a Feather Flock Together’, is a centuries-old proverb. If you have witnessed birds in nature you know this phrase holds true. You would never see a crow, a sparrow, a buzzard and a seagull flying together. It would be an unprecedented sight!
This proverb denotes that people with similar ideas, interests, languages, and characteristics congregate together. There is comfort and security in that. We know what to expect.
Aeriosa is in the research period of a new work called, ‘Flocking’ and has invited Deaf theatre artist Landon Krentz as a collaborator. What kind of art and dance is possible if we do not all hear and speak the same language?
Dance is a non-verbal language where we convey messages, expressions and emotions through movement. Though we may not speak when we perform, we certainly rely heavily on speech to communicate during rehearsals and every time we socialize. Even if we are just dancing we use a musical beat to keep us in time. Someone who is Deaf cannot hear the beat. So how as dancers do we all move in sync – as one flock? In one rehearsal we experimented with stomping the rhythm because then Landon could feel the beat.
Working with Landon has opened a whole new world of communication possibilities and simultaneously highlighting the challenges. Landon is familiar navigating the gaps between the visual and auditory worlds. In our rehearsals, Landon has been using American Sign Language and two interpreters to help bridge this gap. We are learning what we do not know about Deaf Culture or haven’t even questioned before. Landon is revealing Deafness, not as an impairment but as diversity and an opening for new learning experiences.