BOTH picked up sign language out of sheer interest two years ago.
And when their instructors realised they were trained hip hop dancers, they asked Mr Jason Koo, 29, and Ms Nix Sang, 28, to choreograph some simple dance steps for a public performance by the deaf.
But the couple, who have been dancing for more than five years, went one further and set up a hip hop dance group for the hearing-impaired to share their passion.
The group, called Redeafination, was officially set up in July last year. It aims to redefine dance and build a community of deaf dancers.
The self-funded, non-profit group levies a nominal membership fee of $15 every three months and uses the money for its operating expenses.
Its members train once a week for about two hours in a rented studio in Cuppage Plaza in Orchard Road.
Mr Koo, who works in the IT industry, and Ms Sang, a designer, are the instructors, but they invite their friends from the dance circles to be guest instructors so members of the club are exposed to different dance styles.
Of the 13 members, nine are hearing-impaired to varying degrees. Some can hear low-pitched sounds, and the bass sounds which typically accompany hip hop music serve as a guide to them.
Those with severe hearing loss follow the class by looking to the instructors to count visually by clapping their hands, so they internalise the beats.
Group member Rebecca Lim, 25, a polytechnic student, and Jonathan Khoo, 27, a clerk, said learning how to dance has been fun.
To make up for being unable to hear, they work hard at practising and memorising the choreography.
To date, the group has given 11 public performances, the most significant being a full-length dance concert organised by the Nanyang Technological University's Modern Jazz Club.
Said Mr Koo: 'We have long discussions with our deaf friends on how to better communicate with them, and we improvise and improve along the way.'
He added that when Redeafination started out, the idea of formal dance training for the deaf was new, so he and Ms Sang had little support in terms of infrastructure and understanding.
Ms Sang said funding, recruitment and finding partner organisations were continuing challenges.
She said: 'We've persisted in this cause because the bond has been formed and the work is not finished. There are a million reasons to stop but we remember those moments on stage when we can feel the audience understands, and this is enough to keep everyone going.'
The duo hope to reach out to more deaf youth and inspire others to start similar initiatives for special-needs groups.
Social worker Cheng Hwee Fern, a hearing member of the club, said her fellow dancers motivated her.
Said the 31-year-old: 'Many of them have a very good sense of movement, coordination and groove, learn steps faster than I do, and have a better memory. They are also very willing to teach me and we learn together.'
LEOW SI WAN
This article was first published in The Straits Times.