IM this article to a friend!

April 13, 2005

Feeling the vibrations at BlackRock Center for the Arts

From: Business Gazette, MD - Apr 13, 2005

by Jacqueline Mah
Staff Writer
Apr. 13, 2005

Dance class
for deaf children
among offerings

Missy Elliott's "Smooth Chick" blared on the stereo, loud enough to feel the bass beat vibrating through the floor.

Instructor Veronika Farkas, 28, stood in front of a line of five pre-teens in a hip hop dance clinic Saturday at BlackRock Center for the Arts, showing the children ­ four girls and one boy -- how to groove to the music.

Farkas was positioned in front, bobbing up and down, exaggerating her movements to help her students catch on to her enthusiasm.

The students laughed, conscious of their appearance, and followed her movements somewhat mechanically, as children do.

Farkas assured onlookers that her group is usually much less inhibited.

She then apologized for the volume of the music.

"But they can feel the [vibrations] if I turn it up," she said.

This dance class is one for students who are deaf or KODA ­ Kids of Deaf Adults. All of the students, except one, are deaf.

Farkas turned back to the group and using American Sign Language told the children to "step and kick."

She encouraged the students to be creative with their facial expressions ­ an element important in both hip-hop dancing and in sign language, she said.

Allyson Bortoletto, 8, of Middletown, Md., giggled and signed enthusiastically with Rosetta Campanaro, 12, of New Market, and Nicole Gleicher, 11, of Germantown.

Farkas had each student do a solo, strutting his or her stuff across the room.

Bortoletto, giggling, went first. Farkas encouraged her to stomp her feet harder on the floor.

Campanaro went next, looking back at Gleicher for encouragement.

"Go on," Gleicher mouthed, motioning her forward.

"Good," Farkas said and signed, simultaneously, after each student completed the funky steps and twirls across the hardwood floor.

Outside the dance studio, the students' parents waited in a sunlit corner of the BlackRock center, chatting with each other in sign language.

Several of the parents said they followed Farkas' dance class to BlackRock from a center in Frederick.

Patty Campanaro, Rosetta's mother, said her daughter, who has been dancing for awhile, has always loved to dance and enjoys the added benefit of having a teacher who can sign.

"Rosetta likes to express herself to dance, and she likes to hear the music," Patty Campanaro said through another mother, who translated.

Allyson Bortoletto's mother, Kelly Sicard, said the small class size makes her daughter feel comfortable.

"There's no right or wrong in dance," Sicard said. "She feels free to dance. She feels more confident."

Nicole Gleicher's father, Robert Gleicher, chimed in. "My girl likes to try new challenges," he said. "The bottom line is personal growth."

Farkas, who said she is trained to work with deaf students, tries to get her protégés to be comfortable with "letting loose and going with the beat."

Back in the studio, she holds up her fingers in the air to count out the beats and energetically bounces and steps to the song.

"They can't hear the music, so I gotta show it," she said. "They are a little unsure of how to let go."

A Snoop Dogg rap song was the next dance track. Farkas' enthusiasm and plain silliness helped loosen them up.

Jehanne McCullough, 8, really took to the cheerleader-like arm movements that Farkas taught the students earlier in the class.

During a "freeze" game, the students freestyle danced until Farkas turned out the lights, and the students froze in their positions. McCullough watched herself intently in the mirror as she punched her arms into the air and brought her fists back to the center of her chest.

When Farkas encouraged the group to get really loose, McCullough slid to her knees on the floor, smiling and looking like a rock star.

For more information about BlackRock classes visit

Copyright © 2005 The Gazette - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.