By NIDHA KHAN.
Three words come to mind when thinking of 15-year-old hip hop dancer Macy Baez: talented, fearless, and inspirational.
Recently, she’s captivated audiences and garnered worldwide attention with her “soulful, expressive, and energetic” dance moves in a 90 second video clip for Sony and FCB’S project, DEFY.
The project defies the negative societal stereotypes which often conceptualise people with disabilities as incapable; it features a dancer who was born profoundly deaf. Yes, Baez was born profoundly deaf. Today, she wears bilateral cochlear implants which provide her with some degree of hearing, but she still has to heavily rely on being able to “feel the music” in order to dance.
“Dance is a language,” says Baez.
“I feel the beat speak to me and I speak back through dance. I’m telling a story when I dance. You can tell with the motions whether I’m sad or angry. And when I’m dancing with somebody else, it’s like we’re passing a message back and forth with the movement”.
To help her with this, New Zealander Josh Fountain specially designed a hip-hop/electro track for the project that “would kick you in the stomach and make you want to move. I wanted to strip layers away and concentrate on the bass frequencies that you physically feel”.
When Baez dances, her ability to move the audience seems effortless and natural. But being naturally gifted is only one aspect of Baez’s story. It has also required years of dedication for her to continually perfect her art. For example, she’s been dancing since she was seven years old, freestyle dances every morning from 6:30am till the beginning of school, and trains with her hip-hop family ‘Illagroves’ for 4 to 6 hours every week.
During her dancing career, she’s also had to deal with the difficulties that society places on young people with disabilities, such as being only noticed for their disability and not their talent. With this in mind, she hopes that her story can inspire other young people.
Baez even recently spoke at Kelston Girls College in New Zealand, to an audience which included deaf, hearing impaired, and hearing students. She told them “don’t let anyone get in your way… Just be who you are, follow your dreams and never give up”.
Baez’s dream is to attend Parris Goebel’s dance school in New Zealand and become a backup dancer for celebrities like Janet Jackson. With her passion and dedication, it is possible that her dream could soon become a reality.
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