Deaf dancer defies the odds
Twenty-year-old Tianjiao Zhang has always wanted to be a dancer, but being a dancer with hearing loss wasn’t always the easiest dream to achieve.
“Lots of people used to tell me it would prevent me from becoming a dancer,” she says. “But my teacher and especially my mother have always believed in me.”
Tianjiao, known as “JiaoJiao” to her friends and family, was born and raised in China where she learned to dance, hear and speak all at the same time. Now, she preforms as a freelance dancer and has appeared in numerous competitions.
Jinhui Cao, Jiaojiao’s first dance teacher, has trained with her from the beginning. To compensate for her hearing loss, her teacher says she taught her by speaking slowly and with plenty of gestures, always looking for eye contact.
Then, when she was 17, Jiaojiao’s was finally able to prove all those who doubted her wrong. She preformed and won the Chinese TV competition “China’s Dancers,” leaving the jury and audience in awe.
Jiaojiao says she feels the beats of the music when she dances, but her Phonak Naída hearing aids allow her to listen to the melancholy pop songs to study and improve new dances.
“I become one with the music,” she says. “It’s in my heart.”