Chile’s first professional deaf dancer

Deafness has not prevented me from achieving my goals. Sometimes having everything is not so necessary, you can do more with less.

  • 3 years ago
  • July 28, 2021
4 min read
Dagoberto Huerta doing what he loves the most: dancing. Photo by Sexta de artistas. Dagoberto Huerta doing what he loves the most: dancing. Photo by Sexta de artistas.
Interview subject
Dagoberto Antonio Huerta Aruestra is a professional deaf dancer, artistic director, choreographer, teacher, member of the International Dance Council at UNESCO, and a Master’s degree student in Journalism. 
In Chile, there are 2,832,818 people with disabilities. Of these, 27.3 percent have some degree of hearing loss (712,005), and 179,268 people are totally deaf.

Dagoberto Huerta led the First International Encounter of Deaf Art, a funded project by the National Disability Service (SENADIS).

The objective of this meeting is to make visible and promote inclusive culture through art. It promotes the professional development of deaf people around various artistic disciplines, giving them a space for exhibition, exchange, learning, and dialogue to be able to build, strengthen, and expand national and international cooperation networks that contribute to the joint development of their community.

MARCHIGÜE, ChileAt the age of 18, I began to progressively lose my hearing. By 25, I was completely deaf.

Losing my hearing stripped me of my greatest passion – listening to the music that made me fly – but it did not stop me.

My passion for dance was stronger. I discovered a method to feel the vibration of the songs, and thereby became the first professional deaf dancer in Chile.

Deafness pushed me to reinvent myself

I remember the day when I realized I heard absolutely nothing.

That day, I told myself, “I’ll keep dancing. I’ll keep doing what I love. I’ll reinvent myself.”

Every morning, I woke up motivated to learn a new rhythm. In my quest to keep dancing, I found that by turning the music up loud and touching the speaker with my hands, I could feel the vibrations of the songs through the beat of the bass.

I began experimenting with various materials. For example, if I laid down on a wooden floor, I felt the vibrations throughout my entire body. This discovery opened up a world of opportunity for me because I managed to capture musical timing by detecting the vibrations, and with them, I could create choreography.

It is true, I can’t listen to music anymore, but I have learned to watch it. Now, silence is my ally. Auditory memory and my methodology will allow me to continue developing dance.

I am proud to bring a song that I love to the choreography; to create what I imagine. Several people have told me I can’t do this because something terrible happened to me. I disagree.

A whole new world of opportunity

I owe a lot to dance. It helped me express myself, face my fears, gave me the courage to fulfill my dreams despite adversity, and taught me never to give up. Without a doubt, dance has been my therapy.

After becoming a professional dancer, I won a scholarship to study in Argentina with a specialization in musical theater. Later, I returned to my hometown to open my own academy of dance in Marchigüe.

I wanted to contribute to the culture because there were no dance schools in Marchigüe when I was a child. I wanted to give new generations the opportunity I did not have.

I have taken my methodology to meetings for deaf artists and I am a member of the UNESCO International Dance Council. I have participated in several plays and documentaries. Deafness has not prevented me from achieving any of my goals.

Sometimes, having everything is not necessary. With less, you can do so much more. Life wanted me to be a dancer. It wanted me to show the world there is another way to dance and that the traditional way is not the only way.

If life or fate has challenged you as a deaf person, there is a reason. It might be to inspire other people. I prefer to be a deaf dancer over a hearing one because before, when I listened to music, I moved mechanically. Since I learned to listen to music in a new way, I dance with my soul and perform intensely and naturally.

If I had to reinvent myself to dance in the future, I would do it because dance is what I am most passionate about. This discipline has given me the best moments of my life.

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