Meet the man who can teach you to dance - without even being able to hear the music

We spoke to Chris Fonseca, the London dance teacher who can’t hear the music playing – but can still feel the beat.

THINK AN EAR for music is a prerequisite for being an awesome dancer – let alone a successful dance teacher?

Think again. Chris Fonseca is a deaf man who is not only carving out a career in London as a dancer, but is teaching other deaf people how to dance too.

Chris Fonseca Chris Fonseca

And how did he do it? Chris was born with the ability to hear, but he went deaf after contracting meningitis as a child. Despite this, he taught himself how to dance at a young age. Inspired by the 1984 dance film Breakin’, he began to practise his moves over and over again in his bedroom.

PastedImage-41738 MGM / UA Entertainment MGM / UA Entertainment / UA Entertainment

Dedicated to his passion, Chris taught himself old skool dance moves such electric boogaloo, popping and locking, and b-boy. Of his craft, he says:
Dance isn’t something that can be explained in words. It has to be danced.

YouTube YouTube

Ever since then, Chris has followed his feet – resulting in being asked to set up a deaf dance group while still in college studying graphic design.

Def Motion was formed in 2011. It’s an all-deaf dance crew which was set up in response to a request from the organisers of deaffest – the UK’s annual deaf film festival.

“This is a group of talented individuals with an ambition to create and perform visual entertainment through dance, sign-song, comedy and visual vernacular.”

Def Motion are influenced a lot by Michael Jackson and street dance, so Chris was a natural fit, although he’s since stepped back to focus on this solo career.

It might seem unexpected for music to be such a large part of a deaf person’s life, but Chris explains that while he can’t hear the music, he can feel the beat.

“Music to me is all about feeling a sound, which I cannot go a day without. Without music, my life would be incomplete. Music is my love and something that enables everyone to dance.”

The path to becoming a deaf dancer and teacher was not without its struggles and Chris’s attitude towards this is admirable. He didn’t let anything stand in the way of his dream.

If you have experienced hard times and barriers, don’t give up. You will never know how close you are to succeeding until you finally make that breakthrough.

In his dancing journey, Chris found lyrical hip hop to be a particularly challenging style to learn (due to the rhythm and moves having to be well-timed to the beat of the music), but he persevered until he perfected it. He has now joined the Studio 68 dance training academy, which helped him on his way to become a dance teacher and freelance dancer.

YouTube / ChrisFonseca YouTube / ChrisFonseca / ChrisFonseca

Chris took part in the BBC documentary See Hear in 2014, which showcased him as a street dancer with a desire to become professional. It also addressed the obvious question that comes up often:

I’m deaf, yeah, so what? Deafness has always been part of my identity; however it shall never hold me back from my everyday accomplishments.

Instagram / ChrisFonseca

YouTube / Chris Fonseca1 YouTube / Chris Fonseca1 / Chris Fonseca1

So what’s next? Well, Chris has big plans for the future, starting with spreading the word of his and other deaf dancers’ accomplishments:
I’d like to set up my own dance studios where I can continue rehearsing and teaching and holding workshops. I would also like to tour internationally and continue to inspire and have my dance work further recognised.

“I’d love to see an increase in the number of deaf dancers who become professional dancer/dance teachers – potentially even collaborate with some of these on future projects.”

Source: YouTube/ChrisFonseca

Who inspires you? Let us know in the comments below.

Chris Fonseca doesn't let his deafness stand in the way of his dance ambitions and in doing so, manages to inspire many people to reach for their goals too.  Smirnoff - We're Open is all about including everyone - no matter what their circumstances. Head over to Smirnoff now to find out more. 

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