When deaf and hard-of-hearing students first get onto Feel The Beat’s floor and the music turns on, it’s apparent they are experiencing something special. Some are in pure shock, others light up and jump around, and the rest? “They sit on the floor, lie down, and are like, ‘I never want to leave,’” Jari Majewski Price, co-founder of the accessible dance organization, says.
The difference is in the technology below the dancers. Majewski Price and co-founder Julia Faliano, who previously worked in special needs classrooms together, developed a patented bone conduction floor that transforms sound into vibrations. This is not like sitting in a car with the bass cranked up, Majewski Price adds. A device in their floor transforms sound waves from the music into vibrations, which travel through the body and activate the hearing system. This way, a distinction of instruments and rhythm comes through. Depending on the kind of hearing loss, Majewski Price says, individuals may even be able to hear the lyrics.
Feel The Beat classes are particularly accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing communities, considering the floor technology and use of American Sign Language, but are also beneficial for folks with and without various intellectual and developmental disabilities. They provide sensory integration, balance and strength training, social interaction, and emotional expression.
Since its opening in 2017, Feel The Beat has served more than 4,500 students of all ages and abilities through hip-hop, jazz, ballet, and creative movement classes. Having run successful classes at its former studio in Wheat Ridge, the organization plans to take its influence further. Through partnerships with other accessible movement programs, Feel The Beat will install its floor and curriculum in community spaces, including the Charles Whitlock Recreation Center in Lakewood and Brewability Lab inclusive restaurant and event space in Englewood, by the end of spring.
How you can help: Invest your skills and time; Feel The Beat appreciates volunteer contributions including graphic design, web design, event planning, social media management, fundraising, and teaching assistance. Scholarship fund donations help sponsor dancers with financial need.