Dancing is happiness
School was a nightmare for Malaysia DeRosa. A hearing impairment made learning difficult, and she was constantly bullied.
In Motion School of Dance became her safe haven.
“At the end of the day I couldn't wait to get to dance class,” said the 18-year-old. “My dance friends always made me laugh.”
She's taken classes — everything from salsa to ballet, street dancing and tap — with the Reid Street company for 13 years and is now an assistant teacher there.
While some dancers listen to the beat, she feels it.
“I can't always hear every beat,” she said. “But I think it's an advantage in dance.
“Some people only listen to certain parts of the music. I try to listen to it in more depth. I dance because I feel it.”
She leaves the island in July to join the inspirational group Up With People as they travel the world. The teenager will show off her dance skills at every location and also perform a community service.
“I've always wanted to travel,” she said. “I love dance and I love volunteering. It was everything I love rolled into one.”
The challenge came with finding the funding to enrol. One term with Up With People costs $17,000.
The dancer held a show in April to help raise the cash.
“I got some of my friends from In Motion to dance with me,” she said. “I also got my friends Zoe O'Connor and John Seymour to sing.”
She loved choreographing dances for the show.
“It was cool to see what I was capable of,” she said. “The whole process was amazing. So many people came and gave donations. I couldn't help crying at the end, even though I promised myself I wouldn't.
“There was dance about my struggle with shyness, and coming out of it. Another was about being bullied.”
She managed to raise $10,000 through the event, a few potluck dinners and some bake sales.
The Bermuda Arts Council then gave her $3,000; she will pay for the rest herself.
“I was really grateful for all the support,” she said.
Malaysia discovered she was hearing-impaired through a screening at the Child Development Programme when she was 2.
Doctors haven't determined the cause for sure, but think it may be because she was born three months premature.
She once used hearing aids but doesn't anymore “although I should”. Instead, she reads lips.
“They were made for a child and they are brightly coloured. I need to get another pair.”
Her dream is to one day own her own dance studio.
“If I had my own studio I'd try to help other children going through bullying,” she said. “I'd know how to deal with it. I'd also know how to deal with children with disabilities.”
Ultimately, she feels all her hardships have made her a stronger person.
“I think that all the people who have been bullied shouldn't come down on themselves.
“You have to prove yourself to the bullies. You deserve to have your voice heard.”