My identity is simply “Kano-Ken”
Dancer / True Colors MUSICAL performer
**This article is excerpted and re-edited from a panel discussion following “Honk! by Phamaly“ performed on February 16 2020.
In True Colors MUSICAL, I played the part of a cat together with another performer. I’ve performed with a blind actor in a Japanese musical production before, but this time the two of us were appointed to play “one role” together. At first, I imagined that we’d switch positions and perform one person at a time, but when we began the rehearsal we were told that it’d be two people, constantly moving at the same time. I was quite surprised.
At rehearsals, I vocalized my best possible English and Sam tried her best to speak to me, but there were definitely frustrating moments at the beginning where I thought “we can’t communicate!” Just as Japanese and English have different grammar, spoken languages and sign languages have different grammars as well. So even when I vocalized English in American sign language grammar, it was often Sam couldn’t understand me. However, as we continued to rehearse without relying on words our feelings started to resonate. As they say “body language,” communication doesn’t always have to be spoken. We rehearsed using our language that used our feelings and body movements.
I’ve always loved to dance from when I was really young and I was always dancing. I grew up and went into society and I’m still dancing. I never dance thinking about my hearing disability, I only dance because I want to dance. Some people tell me “How can you dance without hearing?” and say things about being a deaf dancer, but “I just dance because I want to.” That’s my standpoint.
People often call me by my nickname, “Kano-Ken.” My identity is not “being deaf” or “dancer who can’t hear” but, simply “Kano-Ken.”