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When the body speaks..

In lieu of ears that cannot hear

By Sitan COULIBALY, Voice Linking, Learning and Communications Officer at OXFAM – Mali

The Parole de corps project, implemented by Famu Danse and Kuma Sô Théâtre, is a unique innovative experience for the exchange of skills between dance and theatre artists involving around fifty young people with hearing impairments in Ségou, Bamako and Koutiala.

Thanks to their participation in these activities, young people with hearing impairment were able to develop knowledge in terms of body movement and expression. The speech barrier has been broken thanks to a good connection, but above all, good collaboration between the choreographers and dancers with the actors and directors.

“Through theatre, I show the audience that we, people with hearing impairment, are not aggressive and nervous. We also have the Zest for life”, says Ladji Touré, 25 years old, a participant in Parole de corps.

During the theatre training, the director encourages young people not only in the art of knowing their bodies but also in knowing how to occupy a stage. Then comes the staging of the modules. The modules are a mixture of literature and body movements. The body replaces the speech. Therefore texts are interpreted by body movements and signs to allow the audience to understand the message they want to convey. Through body language, young people with hearing impairments tell stories about the damaging effects of forced marriage and also convey messages on politics in the country.

With the support of the director, our communication team was able to interview some of the right holders.

Theatre is not the only art through which young people with hearing impairment can thrive. Dancing is also an expression. These young people spent about a year in order to be able to create dance movements that express sign language. Indeed, after talking with the young people with hearing impairment, the choreographer imagines dance movements that express what they think of life, but above all, that gives them the opportunity to tell their story and convey messages that are dear to their hearts.

“My dream is to be a choreographer in order to make our voices heard. And there are no unreachable dreams”, says Hamidou Mariko, 18, a participant in “Parole de corps”.

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