Rose Ayling-Ellis: Strictly Come Dancing’s first deaf contestant explains how she’ll take part in the show

·2-min read

Rose Ayling-Ellis, the first deaf contestant to take part in Strictly Come Dancing, has said she wants to challenge misconceptions about how deaf people experience music. 

The 26-year-old actor is best known for her role as Frankie Lewis, daughter of Mick Carter (Danny Dyer), in EastEnders. She joined the show in May 2020. 

Upon the news of her casting in this year’s series of Strictly, some fans wondered if she would be at a disadvantage due to the dancers’ need to follow the live band and dance in time to the beat.

Speaking to the BBC, Ayling-Ellis said she feels her participation on the show will be an opportunity to challenge assumptions about deaf people and music. 

Watch: Strictly stars use sign language for Rose Ayling-Ellis

“A lot of people think that deaf people can’t hear the music, enjoy the music, and enjoy dancing, so I thought it would be a good platform for me to break that stereotype,” she said. 

“It’s a common misconception that deaf people can’t enjoy music. I have a hearing aid, so I pick up some of the music and I can hear the beat. I can hear someone singing, but I can’t identify exact words. I can also feel the vibrations.”

Ayling-Ellis also said she would be able to work with her professional partner to keep in time with the rhythm. 

“I will be focusing on reading my partner’s body language plus counting in my head, which will help me with timing,” she said. 

She emphasised that each deaf person has their own unique experience with music.

Strictly producers have also been working with Ayling-Ellis to ensure her needs are met on the show. 

She will be coupled up with her professional partner on the Strictly launch show, which takes place on BBC One on Saturday 18 September.

Other contestants taking part include McFly star Tom Fletcher, comedian Robert Webb, TV presenter AJ Odudu, journalist Dan Walker and actor Greg Wise. 

See the full list of contestants here.

Watch: Who is Strictly's Rose Ayling-Ellis?

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