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Ohlone’s first deaf dancer choreographer

Eileen Street

Eileen Street, Contributing Writer

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Ohlone College offers several dance classes on campus, including hip-hop. Twice a week dancers meet near the Smith Center to practice poppin n lockin and other styles of the popular dance genre. Every one gives it their all during this very challenging and physically demanding class. One of those students is Noelle Wilder, who enjoys the class like everyone else, but experiences it in a slightly different way.

Wilder has two sign-language interpreters who take turns sitting a stone’s throw away from where Wilder dances. While Wilder ensures she doesn’t miss a beat; her interpreters ensure Wilder doesn’t miss a word of what the teacher explains. “I grew up always dancing; dancing has always been part of my life,” said Wilder.

Looking at the other dancers, you can tell Wilder has experience in many other styles of dance, besides hip-hop.  Watching the instructor and having the two interpreters sign definitely help Wilder learn the moves quickly. However, it’s not the only way she picks up choreography.

“One of the older studios I danced at had a speaker on the floor. So I was able to go up there and touch the stereo because if I couldn’t figure out the music’s count, then I would just touch it [the stereo], and then I was able to know,” explained Wilder.

The music in class is so loud that the room vibrates. One can feel the music pulsing throughout their body. This helps Wilder stay on count. Since Wilder is only hard of hearing, not completely deaf, she can hear the music at a level that would be considered normal for everyone else in the class.

Wilder’s hard work in this hip-hop class and other dance classes at Ohlone hasn’t gone unnoticed. She is currently one of the choreographers for Ohlone’s Dance Department; the first, and only, deaf choreographer on campus.  

If you’re interested in seeing Wilder perform, she’ll be dancing, and having some of her choreographed pieces performed, April 20-22, 2017, at Ohlone College’s Spring Dance Production, “In, Over, Around, and Through.” Tickets are $12-15 and available at the Smith Center Box Office.

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The student news site of Ohlone College
Ohlone’s first deaf dancer choreographer