Talking Hands (+photos)

Lauris María Henríquez

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Maria Pentón, the interpreter of the Cuban Sign Language, leads the children in their performance. (Photo: Lauris Henriquez Arocha).

Culture is not a banned field for the students at the Rafael Morales Special School for deaf and hard of hearing children of Sancti Spiritus

María Pentón Legón never thought of herself in front of a television camera or leading a children’s choir before a crowd of people who were paying tribute to Fidel Castro. In spite of her nervousness, the interpreter of the Cuban Sign Language could do her job right and led the choir made up of students from the Ernesto Lecuona Elementary Art School and others from the Rafael Morales Special School.

The audience was on the lookout all the time since the children were supposed to sing the song Cabalgando con Fidel (Riding with Fidel).  Maria —better known as Mari— remembers that that day the children who live outside the city were not worried for having to spend the night at school. They were very excited about the performance. They are very committed children indeed.

Mari’s work closely combines with that of art instructors Mariceli Basso Jiménez and Virgen Lorena Obregón Díaz. The intitution’s Artistic Brigade Rompiendo el Silencio (Breaking the Silence) is a good example of their indissoluble fusion.

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The dance instructor prepares the choreographies by doing the counting. (Photo: Lauris Henriquez Arocha).

Virgin has worked in this special school since she graduated. In the beginning, she wondered how the children could understand the music, but the answer came shortly after: doing the counting to mark the steps in the choreography. She has also learned the Cuban Sign Language, and she always remembers how tears flow from people’s eyes when they see the children perform.

Mariceli considers that the multifaceted approach perfectly adapts to the cultural environment of the school. Everyone wants to participate, it doesn’t matter if they have to play a tree, or Pilar (from Jose Marti’s Los Zapaticos de Rosa), carry a doll, or mime a story, all they care is performing the best they can.

escambray today, sancti spiritus, cuban sign languange, deaf and hard of hearing children
Mariceli Basso trains the children to perform the different theater plays. (Photo: Lauris Henriquez Arocha).

The children enjoy playing with the puppets, disguising themselves, and dramatizing. The staging of La Edad de Oro stories is their latest success, in which they look like small actors and recreate a world of fantasy and fraternity. According to Mari, Virgen and Mariseli, their hands express more than a thousand words.

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