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Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Sign language choir Reach for the Stars are giving a unique University-hosted performance this month!

Have you ever considered how popular music uses lyrics which describe emotions very visually?


Songs by Mariah Carey, Leona Lewis, Pink, and S Club 7, which seek to demonstrate this, will all feature in a unique performance by a Chester-based sign language choir taking place later this month.


The use of metaphors will be explored by the Dee-Sign Choir in a one-off performance, supported by the University of Chester, on Monday November 21. The Choir is a local charity that helps to raise deaf awareness and funds through its many performances. The event is taking place as part of Being Human 2016, a Festival of the Humanities, and a national forum for public engagement with humanities research. The Festival is led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.


This year’s special theme is ‘Hope and Fear’ and marks the first time the University of Chester has been part of Being Human. The institution’s involvement has been led by Dr Libby Damjanovic, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology, whose expertise includes face recognition and emotion perception.


On Monday November 21, at the Chester Deaf Centre, Dee-Sign Choir will perform a series of songs chosen alongside Dr Damjanovic, to convey how complex emotional themes can be unlocked through the power of music, gesture, metaphor and facial movement. The songs will be accompanied by British Sign Language.


The set list includes Reach by S Club 7; Hero by Mariah Carey; Footprints in the Sand by Leona Lewis; plus songs by Pink, Mary Mary, Sam Bailey; and music from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel (You'll Never Walk Alone). Four of the songs are new to the choir, and are currently being practised at the Chester Deaf Centre in readiness for the event. The songs have to be translated from English word order into British Sign Language word order, filmed, and then DVDs are produced in order for the choir members to practise at home as well as at the Deaf Centre.


Dr Damjanovic said: “We often speak in metaphors, but how well can the human mind pick up on non-verbal cues of our deepest hopes and fears? For example, are things looking up or are you still feeling down? The repertoire we have chosen will explore these emotions and I’m sure it will be an entertaining, and educational, evening for all.”

Anne Hesketh, Dee-Sign Director, assisted by Sallie Fletcher and Lorraine Fletcher, Assistant Directors, said: “Dee-Sign Choir is delighted to be invited to be part of this unique opportunity, and hopes it will lead to more joint projects with the University of Chester in the future. The Choir members have enjoyed working with Dr Damjanovic, choosing suitable songs relating to the human emotions of hope and fear. It has given them a better insight into how their performances, and the song lyrics and metaphors contained within them, translate into British Sign Language.”

The event falls during National Learn to FingerSpell Week (November 20-26,) which aims to encourage as many people as possible to learn the British Sign Language alphabet.

The performance begins at 7.30pm. Tickets are free but must be booked in advance at:


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