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June 5, 2004

Deaf dancer will showcase her routine this weekend in Fort Pierce

From: Fort Pierce Tribune, FL - Jun 5, 2004

By Jason Geary staff writer
June 5, 2004

FORT PIERCE -- Antonia Mueller's eyes slightly tear when she thinks about her 17-year-old daughter shipping off Monday to join the Marines.

But when she feels sad or worried, Mueller doesn't listen to music. She just dances.

Mueller, who was born deaf, has spent years learning to dance -- first as a child in Puerto Rico, as a young adult in New York and now at Simply Dance, a studio in Port St. Lucie.

"The deaf can (dance)," Mueller said, signing to her daughter, Lisa Pfeiffer. "The problem is some parents refuse to let their deaf kids dance. All they have to do is try. I want to tell the world that I am a deaf person and can do it."

Mueller is one of more than 300 students who have spent the past 10 months preparing to showcase their talents during this weekend's recitals titled "Reaching for the Stars" at the St. Lucie County Civic Center.

Some students, as young as 2 years old, have been mastering various dancing styles: ballet, jazz, tap, clogging, hip-hop, acrobatics, Latin jazz and cheerleading.

However, Mueller is the studio's only deaf student. The 37-year-old plans to perform three dance numbers, with jazz, hip-hop and Latin flavors, at Sunday evening's performance.

The mother of four children said she felt comfortable dancing within 20 minutes of her first attempt at a Catholic elementary school in Puerto Rico.

Although she can't hear the music, Mueller concentrates on the subtle nuances hidden within the music's vibrations. Once she unlocks the rhythm, she watches her dance partners and begins to move.

"She can actually feel the vibrations on the floor," said her teacher, Giselle Borras. "When she's in the classroom, it's really loud."

Pam Reffner, owner of Simply Dance, said Mueller's dedication is inspiring.

"I think what makes her so good is she's hungry for it," Reffner said.

When she once owned a Stuart dance studio, Reffner recalled teaching a blind teenage girl how to tap dance. The girl would place an arm on someone's shoulder, walk out on the stage, listen to the music and dance.

The best dancers dance from the heart, Reffner said.

"And you can see it," she said.


What: Simply Dance's 18th annual "Reaching for the Stars" recital
Where: St. Lucie County Civic Center, 2300 Virginia Ave. in Fort Pierce
When: Today at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Tickets: $14 for adults and $12 for children

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