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article imageDancing in silence: Deaf flamenco dancer forms dance company

By Anne Sewell     Sep 19, 2014 in Entertainment
Seville - Deaf since the age of six, 38-year-old María de los Ángeles Narváez Anguita has not let that hold her back. Both a dancer and also an entrepreneur, she has formed her own flamenco company and is starring in a documentary film.
Despite being deaf, her passion is to dance, and Narváez has performed in several of the most prestigious flamenco festivals in Spain, including the Seville Biennial.
For a living, Narváez sells lottery tickets (known as “cupones”) for ONCE, the Spanish association for the blind, and this has earned her the affectionate nickname and professional dancing title of “La Niña de los Cupones.”
After receiving streptomycin treatment for whooping cough at the age of six, Narváez completely lost hearing in her right ear and the left only registers sound over 30 decibels, meaning that she requires a strong hearing aid. Despite this, Narváez insists that she is not incapacitated, and that she just has different capacities. She believes that often when describing people as having difficulties, this can stop people from recognizing the ability and skills they have.
While she says she does not remember the sounds of her childhood, Narváez says that she is “deeply musical” and that she can feel the sound waves against her skin. What she does is to learn the various pieces of music by heart, lip reading as the singer performs and claps.
Soon after she lost her hearing, Narváez attended the celebrated Paco Palacios flamenco school and in 1990 went on to the Matilde Coral academy concluding her studies nine years later at the Seville Conservatory.
Having worked with some of the most famous flamenco performers, she set up her own dance company. She then proceeded to incorporate sign language into three different flamenco shows which have been performed in both Spain and France, “30 decibelios” (30 decibels), “En el aire” (In the air) and “Sorda” (Deaf). An extract of the latter show is included above as a video and more videos can be seen on Narváez 's YouTube channel
Her work has become so well known that a filmmaker, Remedios Malvárez, has recently completed a documentary film about the dancer’s life, titled “Silencio.” Malvárez said he was surprised at how Narváez had overcome her disability in such a remarkable way. He said, “She is highly professional, an excellent dancer, top class.”
The film will be aired at several documentary festivals internationally this autumn.
Spanish sources:
El Pais
La Niña de los Cupones
El Arte de Vivir el Flamenco
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