Deaf youngsters in Norwich learn new moves with Olivier-nominated dancer

Youngsters have proved you don't need to hear sound to feel the rhythm of the beat as an Olympic-inspired project got under way.

Six deaf teenagers took part in the first of a series of dance classes aimed at giving them the chance to explore movement, ideas and gesture.

The Norfolk County Council-led project, called Dance Aloud, has been inspired by the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and will see the youngsters perform a final piece at Norwich Playhouse.

As part of the initiative, three-times Olivier Award-nominated dance and theatre artist Neil Paris, who hails from Norwich, is working with the children.

And the first session yesterday saw them choreograph their own names.

They will now take part in a class every Friday morning at the Garage in Chapel Field North, Norwich, before performing on March 16.

Mr Paris, who grew up in Sprowston and has a deaf sibling, said: 'It's been fantastic.

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'We were all quite nervous and apprehensive at the beginning, but it's been absolutely brilliant.

'They are all really enthusiastic, very creative and have a tremendous amount of confidence in their movements.'

Over the coming weeks, the youngsters, who all attend the deaf centre at City of Norwich School, will explore narratives linked to the seven values of the Olympic and Paralympic Games – excellence, friendship, equality, respect, courage, determination and inspiration – and represent these in dance.

Azharul Islam, 14, from Sprowston, said: 'I had a great time. I thought dancing was for girls and there was going to be ballet involved, but it's been creative dancing and I like it. It's quite cool.'

Katy Bence, 13, from Poringland, added: 'When I came here I was quite nervous, but I've had so much fun.

'I loved doing the names and Neil has been fantastic. I'm glad I'm coming back every week.'

Dance Aloud is one of many Olympic-inspired projects being organised by Norfolk County Council for children and young people.

The council is applying for a London 2012 Inspire Mark for the project – a mark awarded to projects inspired by the Games.

Norfolk schools are also being given the opportunity to get involved with other projects.

To get involved, schools should register with the London 2012 Olympics Get Set educational programme on

Are you doing something in the run-up to the Olympics next year? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email