Dance studio helps deaf students feel the beat

WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. -- Inside Feel the Beat dance studio, founder Jari Majewski leads her class in a series of introductory jazz and hip hop moves.

The soundtrack inside Majewski’s studio features pop stars such as Justin Bieber and Rihanna. But her students have never heard the hit songs before and they never will.

“This kind of program it’s tailored, it’s created, it’s made specifically for deaf and hard of hearing kids,” Majewski said.

The classes are inclusive and adaptable for everyone. Children and adults, regardless of any physical disabilities including deafness and blindness, can participate.

The difference is in the dance floor.

“What we’ve created here is a very specific vibrational dance floor,” Majewski said.

It uses 22 bone conduction transducers to translate traditional sound into vibrations that can be interpreted through touch.

“Not just like base like the boom, boom, boom,” Majewski said. “It actually takes all different musical instruments and translates that into feeling through the connection of your bone in your body.”

Pianos, guitars, vocalists and brass instruments all feel different through the floor.

Feel the Beat formed as a nonprofit organization and began teaching classes in October. As far as it knows, it is the only ones using tactile sound technology for dance classes.

“The military uses this. Runners use this. Deaf people use this. But it has never existed in a floor,” co-founder Julia Faliano said.

The floor allows deaf dancers to be included in a world where they say they are often left out.

“There is music out there and it’s everywhere but we never get to feel and connect and we’re kind of left out,” said Luci Gale, who was born deaf.

“It’s really cool. I can’t hear the words but I can feel it and get the connection of the rhythm and the beat.”

Feel the Beat holds classes Monday through Friday. The first class is free and each class after that costs $15.