LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- A local woman who was made to feel badly as a child for the way she spoke, and later told she couldn’t dance because she could not hear, is defying constructs and is proving that, yes, she can.
“They’d always say deaf is dumb and for a long time, I believed that when I was growing up, because I really thought I was dumb, there was not a lot of support from the hearing world because they treat you like you’re only capable of so many things,” said Brandy Mimms of Little Rock.
Not only has she become a professional dancer, after learning how in her 30s, she’s also teaching non-hearing children to do the same and she’s even founded a dance troupe.
“I’m teaching the deaf kids how to feel the rhythm, because we can’t hear the music, so we have to learn different with different methods…” she said
For years she felt she was limited in what she could do. It wasn’t until college when she first began to believe in herself and her own abilities. She wanted to be a cheerleader- she faced her fear, tried out, knowing she wouldn’t make the team, but then the coach called her name after tryouts and she was accepted. “From that moment, that’s when I realized anything is possible, if you try.”
Later, at age 33, she decided she’d enroll in a college ballet class. “It was hard… others were dancing better than me… my confidence was really small…” She said she wasn’t doing very well in it and had trouble reading the ballet teacher’s lips.
But then, Mimms met someone extraordinary… someone much like herself- a deaf dancer in San Francisco. There, after thinking she was the “only deaf dancer in the world,” she met deaf dancers from all over the world.
Upon returning to Little Rock from her trip to San Francisco, she danced with fire and passion and amazed her teachers, who saw a complete turn around in her performance and confidence.
“I danced like I was the best dancer in the room… when I saw the other deaf dancers [in San Francisco], it helped me accept who I am, as a deaf individual…”
Mimms’ dance company, called Listen with Your Eyes, will have their debut performance on Saturday. Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Southwest Recreation Center in Little Rock.
Performances will be based on “life,” she says. One being called “Too Busy to Be Fancy,” which is about working women struggling to keep up with exterior beauty standards.
Mimms says that she was adopted as a child, but then her adoptive parents died when she was little. She is also a New Orleans transplant, having survived Hurricane Katrina with a 10-week-old baby.
Mimms can be reached via Facebook and Instagram- she welcomes other dancers (hearing and non-hearing) to audition for the troupe Hear with Your Eyes.