ST. LOUIS — At Krupinski Academy of Dance, kids are singing with their feet.
Ten-year-old Darren Young is one of the students that really feels the rhythm, which is a good thing because he can’t hear it.
Hours after he was born, doctors discovered Darren was deaf. “And you know, I started crying and was pretty upset,” said Darren’s grandmother Jeannie Young. “And Ashley, my daughter, his mom says, ‘Mom, we can handle the deafness.'”
Ashley knew that because she, too, was deaf. And they all quickly discovered that when it came to music, instead of his ears, Darren would hear it with his feet.
“Whenever I feel the vibration, I will know that the music is starting,” Darren said.
Ever since getting his cochlear implants, which stimulates nerves in the inner ear, the world has been his stage.
“At home, his favorite words are, watch me,” Jeannie said with a laugh. Darren works hard in the dance studio. “We practice and then practice and practice,” he said.
And he also works hard when he visits speech pathologist Andrea Gregg at St. Louis Children’s Hospital every two weeks. Words can sometimes be a bigger challenge than tunes but he’s come a long way.
“He’s really bright and really charismatic and fun and active and interested,” Speech Pathologist Andrea Gregg said. “So I think that was a big part of it. He wanted to learn.”
Recently, Darren and some classmates performed in front of dozens of people. When we asked if that made him nervous, he had a certain answer.
“Never! It never does!” His short term goal is to try out for a production at the Muny. Long term? Broadway.
“It would be my favorite thing in the world,” Darren said with a smile. Darren Young. A young man who despite being deaf is never out of step.