Watch Shelly's Story and Read More Below:
Imagine if, as you were reading this reading this sentence, the words began to look smaller and smaller…
For Shelly Gallaway, that is what it feels like to listen to a song or take part in a conversation. Shelly has a sensory neural genetic deficit that impairs her hearing and gets more severe over time. Some might see this as a reason for her to stay off the dance floor, and for quite a while, Shelly did too.
“Being hearing impaired, I thought for a long time, ‘No, I’m not sure…’”
Then, something changed. Shelly was introduced to ballroom dancing, and “fell in love with it.” Not only did she realize that she could ballroom dance, but that she was good at it! (Her placements at a recent competition only prove the point.) But Shelly’s dancing is not about trophies or simply learning steps. It is about letting go. It is about looking inward. It is about challenging herself to improve and to focus on her talents, not on her deficits.
“[Dancing] builds your confidence. It gives you joy. It’s great conditioning physically, mentally, spiritually. You learn so much about yourself.”
Through dancing, Shelly has found an outlet that is as therapeutic as it is rewarding. She has also found a community of people who share her passion and support one another.
“I love to see people encouraged. I love to see people prosper, and flourish, and be nurtured to be healthy and love themselves… You don’t find that very often in social settings.”
Despite all this, you might be tempted to feel a certain sympathy for Shelly. For surely her dancing experience is diminished at least somewhat, is it not? That largely depends on your definition of the experience in the first place. While she may not hear every timbre and tone of the cha cha the way others do, she no doubt feels a heightened sense of the dance which others do not. The muted harmonic makes way for a kinesthetic process which most of us are too distracted to fully embrace or enjoy. The quiet enables focus: on her partner, on her surroundings, and yes, on her body as she moves across the floor. Perhaps we should not be quick to feel for dancers like Shelly, or DTWS champion, Nyle DiMarco. Perhaps we should learn from them, and envy their dancing experience.
Since she took her first bold step onto the ballroom floor, Shelly has come to learn what so many others have – that the joy of dance is not finite. It is not reserved for those of a particular genetic makeup. True, the human body will have its limitations, but there is no limit on the capacity of the human spirit to soar across a waltz or sway into a rumba, even if the music or movement is your head…correction, in your heart.
*Shelly Gallaway is a student at Dance With Me studios in The Woodlands, Texas. To learn more about her inspiring story, check out the video linked here. And if you are ready to have your own amazing dance experience, you can visit www.dancewithmeusa.com for information on how to get started! Like Shelly, you just might find a whole new world of possibilities at your feet. Thanks for reading!