Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tendue, Saute and Plie..... Say what?

I have the unique opportunity to interpret for my son's modern dance class this summer. Some folks would take offense that I didn't hire a professional interpreter but the bottom line is I can't afford the class and the interpreter. So armed with a vocabulary sheet I dive in. First I need to see the moves and learn the names. We decide on a sign.

Here is an example of what I need to convey,

"and 5 6 7 ready? Demi plie tondue releve parallel breathe 6 7 and 8 and hold "

So my son says if a dancer read that phrase it wouldn't make sense. He demonstrates the moves and giggles. Well that is my point. For two hours a day I try and quickly follow the teacher who is using a language I have no understanding of. Everything is dependent on rhythm and timing. Eight count, four count, two count. My son watches the others , the mirror and me. He manages to keep up sometimes he needs a minute to just watch. What I learned from him is most professional interpreters can't manage this class. I have been signing with him for 12 years and have a personnel investment in our communication so it turns out this was a good way to go.

What is so crazy to me is he can keep up with the timing. I have to keep up as well and after a couple of days I get the rhythm. Sometimes I just count out the rhythm but he doesn't need it. I have learned the teachers meaning with her notes and can convey the message.

The side notes are crazy and the teacher doesn't present well framed concepts because she is thinking about what she is saying as she talks. She is filled with passion and works very free from that. She may change the direction of her thoughts if she works out a problem on the spot. She talks fast. I don't have the time to listen , pause and rework it into ASL. A lot of what she says is self fashioned idiom.

We had a guest teacher and again I need a bit of time to learn her message.

"And we 1 push, yada yada yada , battement, attitude, (" that is good little one" -off to another student)"

So my point. My son could be cut off from this class. He is not. As a community we work together. No big deal. I interpret (yes, interpret, if you are professional please understand the reality of the teachers financial limits, understand this is not a typical job. You need special background for it) , his teacher makes sure to correct his body by walking over and working him through it, his fellow students give him cues, he watches with deaf vision. It doesn't take much time to accommodate him. Not one student is effected in a negative way. He is getting so much from this class.

So yeah, I think he can dance. We never say we can't. We just try and see what happens.

I saw on Facebook a deaf performer was hired by Cirque De Soliel. Cheers to him! That is Haddy's dream. I bet this guy never says he can't. Haddy is begging me to go see him preform. He is such a Cirque addict but this is a double cool thing.


  1. I took ballet and tap dance lessons for three years as a youngster. Loved every minute of it. I just got to watching what the other students did for steps as for plie, tendue, and saute-- really, saute??? Saute as in cook in a pan? Lol, I've forgotten already.

    Deaf kids take stage and 'mirror' cues far better than hearing ppl do. And they do pick up the French eventually. The boy will be a charm on the stage, don't worry about it.


  2. DUDE, please become an interpreter because you often step into the role without the qualifications.

    I KNOW, it seems silly to you that you can't do this and that people get kind of miffed about it, but really we are fighting for the best access for deaf people. That is what we all want. A lot of people think they can interpet without proving it on a national or state level test, and without any sort of interpreter training. This holds EVERYONE back.

    Please stop practicing as an interpreter when you say you aren't one. AND IF you are one, it's probably not a good idea to interpret for your own son. It affects the neutrality of your interpretation.

    I am sure you can get certified, please do so, and respect the people who dedicate their lives to this job and strive to provide the best access possible. If people become accustomed to family members stepping in to "interpret," or well-meaning people at work stepping in to "interpret," then deaf people are never going to be afforded the right to the accomodations they request, and highly qualified people will have to find employment elsewhere. There is already an overwhelming need for interpreters. Please do not contribute to the problem. Become an interpeter and stop play-acting that people can just do that without any kind of education or qualfications.

  3. Anonymous, there is a problem. What does a parent do if their child wants to take a class and the teacher is not required by law to provide an intepreter? I can't afford to hire a qualified interpreter. I know it is bad for me to do it for a family member but I really don't know of another option. Even if I got certified I would still be doing it for free. It would still be a conflict. The law is not a magic wand that solves all accomodation issues.

    Another problem, often when he joins a class that is required, they give him a high school student with maybe two years of ASL. The law does not require a certain level of skill.

    I do demand that the school district gets him a certified interpreter. As far as I know I am the only parents who does that here. In every situation where he has a legal right I fight for accomodation. I would never interpret at a hospital or even at the local library story time.

    So I never wanted to be an interpreter because of my role as an advocate and parent. I agree with you but sometimes I am stuck. I have to decide what is best for my son and sometimes it means he is not a political platform for deaf issues.

    The real problem for us is the limits of the law. Other people don't know their rights so they may not ask for appropriate services when it is their right.

    So I will think about what you said. Thank you.

  4. :) Are you slipping in a little of la langue des signes fran├žaise for the positions? Thinking of all the meshing we do of languages and musical jargon in everyday conversation, I hadn't ever thought about this need with regard to signing. Thanks -- you've inspired me to find those words and phrases asap, starting with do-re-mi.

  5. I just enrolled both of my Deaf daughters in dance, I will be their language assistant.
    I was Googling "Plie ASL" when I came across this blog post. Its nice to know I'm not alone :) Thank You!